The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has advised pharmacies to continue providing rota services on Easter after learning that many pharmacies are unwilling to provide the services on Easter holidays.
“It is extremely regrettable that community pharmacy representatives have advised that access to rota pharmacies in some parts of Northern Ireland will be reduced over the Easter holidays,” department said.
They have also stated that despite a commitment of recurrent investment, support for new patients assessed by Trusts as requiring blister packs may be restricted. These actions have the potential to impact on patients and other parts of the Health and Social Care system.
The department has also called the CPNI’s demand to increase the funding up to 50 per cent in the sector “unrealistic” in the current financial climate.
It said: “Financial pressures across the entire NI public sector are severe with an extremely challenging health budget anticipated for 2023/24.”
“The Department is therefore facing a significant funding gap just to maintain existing services and the whole Health and Social Care system is an extremely unpredictable and fragile position. The core funding envelope available to community pharmacies in NI has increased by 16% over the past three years.”
Research conducted by the Department has shown that the level of government funding for community pharmacies in NI compares very favorably with other parts of the UK.
It has advised the public to go to their local pharmacy during normal opening hours this week and on Saturday 8 April in particular to collect their prescriptions and avail of pharmacy services.
“There will be some pharmacy rota provision on Easter Sunday but not necessarily in the normal areas. The Department appreciates that some pharmacies will continue to provide rota services this Easter despite the current difficulties.”