Select Committee MPs call on Department of Health to resolve funding crisis in community pharmacy
A group of Westminster Select Committee MPs have called on the Department of Health to resolve the funding crisis in the Northern Ireland community pharmacy network in a newly published report.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee has carried out an inquiry into funding priorities in the health service and published its findings.
In the report, the cross-party Committee, Chaired by Conservative MP Simon Hoare, have stressed the need for the Department to agree a sustainable funding package for community pharmacy and to implement a Drug Tariff based on Northern Ireland’s unique set of circumstances.
The community pharmacy network in Northern Ireland has been reporting growing pressures for a number of years and evidence from an independent cost of service investigation commissioned by the Department of Health points to underfunding of around £20m per annum.
Commenting on the publication of the Committee report, Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI said:
“We welcome the recommendation contained in this report, acknowledging the very serious situation facing the community pharmacy network in Northern Ireland.
“We have been highlighting our fears for the network for quite some time and are pleased that the Committee is calling for action.
“In the absence of an Executive and functioning Assembly, the NI Affairs Committee is really the only vehicle we have to scrutinise the work of departments in Northern Ireland and to ensure funding priorities reflect the reality on the ground.
“Community pharmacy provides a vital and accessible frontline service, ensuring that everyone in Northern Ireland can get advice when they need it. If properly invested in, community pharmacy can help ease growing bottlenecks in GP surgeries and keep people out of hospital.
We are keen to work with the Department and Board to ensure that any investment in community pharmacy is one that works and that helps transform the health service. If we do not invest in transformative services then we are putting the entire service at risk.”
Member of the NI Affairs Select Committee, Ian Paisley MP said:
“The situation in community pharmacy in untenable and I would urge the Department to take heed of the committee’s recommendation and address the funding issues that are at risk of undermining the entire network.
“People need to be able to access community pharmacy services and in light of recent measures taken elsewhere in the UK, it would be prudent of the Department of Health to work on finding a solution to this ongoing issue.”