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Northern Ireland releases plan to fully realise the potential of community pharmacies


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NI Community Pharmacy Strategic Plan 2030 envisions an expansion of clinical services offered by community pharmacies

The Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland has published a new Strategic Plan for Community Pharmacy, highlighting the vision and key priorities for the sector over the next 10 years.

Co-developed by the DoH and Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI), the representative body for community pharmacy owners, the plan aims to fully realise the potential of community pharmacy services to support better health outcomes from medicines and prevent illness.

The vision outlined in the plan sees community pharmacies offering more clinical services, leveraging the skills of their teams to provide the public with safe, convenient, and faster access to care.

According to DOH, the vision will be realised through four major reform programmes focusing on services, legislation, workforce, and digital enablers, alongside six strategic priorities.

Together, these initiatives are anticipated to transform the role of community pharmacy within the Health and Social Care (HSC).

Health Minister Robin Swann has extended his support to the new Community Pharmacy Strategic Plan, which builds on the previously agreed 3-year community pharmacy commissioning plan.

Swann recognised that while additional investment has been allocated to the community pharmacy sector, further funding will be required to “fully deliver” this Strategic Plan up to 2030.

“I am very conscious that the Community Pharmacy sector – like all sectors across health and social care – is keen to see further investment,” he said.

Professor Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Northern Ireland, hailed the Community Pharmacy Strategic Plan stating that it “describes a positive and ambitious vision for community pharmacy in Northern Ireland.”

“It outlines how the delivery of planned reforms in the period up to 2030 will provide the public with continued access to medicines from pharmacies plus an increased range of clinical services.”

“This will help realise the potential within community pharmacy teams to provide quicker access to care for acute and long-term conditions in local communities, utilising advances in medicines, diagnostics, digital and medical technologies,” she added.

The key priorities for the next decade include:

  1. Expanding clinical services at community pharmacies to enhance patient care
  2. Modernising systems to ensure safe and reliable medicine supply and professional advice at community pharmacies
  3. Enhancing the skills and capacity of the community pharmacy workforce
  4. Building digital architecture to ensure safe, efficient, paperless systems
  5. Strengthening community links to tackle health inequalities and improve health literacy
  6. Promoting community pharmacy as a great place or training, work, and building pharmacy careers.

The plan will be implemented in a phased approach over the coming years by collaborating with Community Pharmacy NI and the pharmacy profession, the DOH said.

Commenting on the release of NI’s Community Pharmacy Strategic Plan, Professor Harry McQuillan, Chairman of Numark, said: “It is particularly pleasing to see a vision specific to the community pharmacy sector with a bold and forward-looking approach to practice to develop patient-centred services, incorporate independent prescribing, advanced practice and support the population health needs.”

Numark members comprise a large number of community pharmacies in Northern Ireland and across the UK.

Professor McQuillan noted that Numark will be working to fully support its members to realise the vision and assist in delivering the stated six strategic priorities.

“I look forward to working with all stakeholders over the coming years to bring the intended population health and community pharmacy benefits to fruition,” he added.





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