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Department of Health announces support package worth £5.3m for pharmacy sector in NI

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The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has announced an immediate intervention worth over £5.3m (pharmacy support package) in value, and a commitment to progress wider reform arrangements in collaboration with the Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI) to support pharmacies to deal with the ongoing pressure.

The Minister and Department are ‘very aware of the pressures facing community pharmacies’. They discussed the situation with CPNI representatives at a meeting last week. The scale of the unprecedented budgetary pressures and uncertainty currently facing the Department were spelt out.

The Department said: “Notwithstanding these pressures, CPNI were informed that a support package for their sector was being finalized. This package includes immediate interventions worth over £5.3m in value, plus a commitment to progress wider reform arrangements in collaboration with CPNI.”

Recently, the CPNI highlighted that community pharmacists have issued a stark warning that shortages and skyrocketing prices of many medicines could result in pharmacies being unable to supply important prescription medicines to patients.

“The sector has said it is already seeing the price of buying medicines from wholesalers rise exponentially for many products, with shortages now common across many medicines. It is warning that some patients may not be able to get the medicines they need in the coming weeks,” said CPNI.

“If left to deteriorate without Department of Health intervention, community pharmacists have said they will no longer be able to afford to pay for commonly prescribed drugs used to treat health conditions including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, insomnia, mental health and coronary conditions.

“Community Pharmacy NI has called on the Department of Health to support community pharmacists to meet the additional price rises and ensure medicine supplies to patients can be maintained.”

Responding to CPNI’s comment, Health Department said: “It is therefore somewhat surprising to see CPNI publicly demanding a package which it already knows is on the way.”

It has also reassured the public that there are national and locally tried and trusted mitigation arrangements in place for dealing with any supply distributions to ensure that patients continue to get the medicines they need.

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