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The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has launched a consultation process on a newly developed ‘pharmacy needs assessment’ benchmarking tool in Northern Ireland.

The model aims to enable decision making within the current regulatory frameworks around the provision of pharmaceutical services relative to need in localities.

HSCB noted that community pharmacies play a pivotal role, not only in the supply and dispensing of medicines, but increasingly in providing a first point of contact with the health service.

To understand the needs for pharmacy services, the HSCB engaged with a range of user groups and found that:

  • Amongst a range of valued services, the dispensing of medicines is the most frequently used service from community pharmacies.
  • Access to a pharmacy within a 15 minute travel time was considered reasonable.
  • Users reported being satisfied with Pharmacy opening hours.
  • Various factors relating to access were noted as being important e.g. transport, distance and mobility.

Joe Brogan, head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at HSCB said: “Every day across Northern Ireland, an estimated 123,000 people use community pharmacy services. It is vitally important that we have a service that is able to continue to meet the needs of changing population demographics. We welcome views from all individuals and organisations in helping us inform the continued development of a community pharmacy service which is resilient and able to meet the needs of patients.”

The board has invited members of the public and interested parties to participate in the consultation process.

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