(L to R) Andrew Lane, Gerard Greene, Cathy Harrison and Mark Lyonette

Cathy Harrison has been permanently appointed as Northern Ireland’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer.

Harrison, who had been serving as the acting CPO since Dr Mark Timoney stepped down in December 2018, took up her permanent role last week.

She is responsible for leading policy relating to Medicines Optimisation, Innovation, Pharmacist Prescribing, Pharmacy in the Community and Pharmaceutical Public Health.

A qualified pharmacist, Harrison is the registrant of both the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

Speaking at an National Pharmacy Association (NPA) reception in Belfast on Monday, Harrison said the pharmacists’ “skills are increasingly in demand.”

In her first public speech since taking over as permanent CPO, she warned that “pharmacy cannot be the answer to every question” and urged the NPA members to focus on what they do best and make the most of their medicinal expertise.

Harrison also envisaged a positive future for community pharmacy.

Also speaking at the event, Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland said Community pharmacy was “intent on making significant in-roads into the public health, medicines optimisation and transformation agendas”.

NPA Acting Chair Andrew Lane, who hosted the reception, praised both Harrison and Greene for maintaining a constructive dialogue with each other through trying times, noting pressures on workforce and finances.

Co-host Michael Guerin, the NPA’s Treasurer, said he now looked forward to progress in relation to the long-stalled community pharmacy contract in Northern Ireland.

NPA Chief Executive Mark Lyonette also attended the reception.

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