NI pharmacies get Â£13m funding boost for Covid services
Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann has announced Â£13.25m in funding for community pharmacies to help them provide additional services during the Covid-19 crisis.
The Department of Health said the funding would help guarantee that all pharmacies can continue to provide their core dispensing service, as well as helping them offer additional services from July including:
- The continuation of an emergency supply service that began earlier in the crisis
- Smoking cessation and opiate substitution services, which were suspended because of the crisis, are to recommence
- An â€˜enhancedâ€™ on-call palliative care service will be provided, as well as a new care home service
- A â€˜Pharmacy Firstâ€™ service for minor ailments
- A medicines delivery service for vulnerable groups
- Providing advice and signposting to promote physical and mental health.
The funding is being made available up to March 2021, and follows a previous Â£7.5m investment to help pharmacies keep their doors open during the pandemic. Â
Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland â€“ which earlier in the year threatened industrial action over an ongoing funding dispute with the Department of Health â€“ welcomed the new investment and said it would â€œhelp sustain and expand transformative servicesâ€ while helping to combat workforce pressures and financial uncertainty.
CPNI chief Gerard Greene said the allocation was a â€œclear recognition of the critical role of the sectorâ€ in a time of crisis and would enable pharmacies â€œto address immediate pressures and help with the challenges of the post-Covid health serviceâ€.
Praising Mr Swannâ€™s efforts as health minister, Mr Greene said: â€œDespite only being in post as health minister since the return of the Assembly earlier this year, he has listened and prioritised community pharmacy.â€
Minister Swann said he â€œfully understands the historical challenges faced by the sector, adding: â€œThis is the first time that an agreement on the commissioning and funding of community pharmacy has been reached in Northern Ireland.
â€œI welcome the new approach to collaborative working which I believe will be beneficial for the Health and Social Care Board, pharmacies and all those who use their services.â€
Northern Irelandâ€™s chief pharmaceutical officer Cathy Harrison said: â€œEvery day our community pharmacy staff work with the utmost professionalism on the frontline of the HSC, providing accessible services for the public.
"This agreement shows that we are backing our community pharmacy teams as we continue to work through the uncertainty of the coming months and towards a more positive future.â€