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NI health secretary acclaims pharmacy's role over last 100 years

Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann paid tribute to the “unwavering” dedication of community pharmacy teams during the Covid pandemic at a dinner to mark the National Pharmacy Association’s centenary earlier this week.

The event at Hillsborough Castle near Belfast, the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland, attracted 50-plus guests including Cathy Harrison, the chief pharmaceutical officer at the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.

Mr Swann said pharmacy teams had made an important contribution to public service over the last 100 years since the NPA’s formation and had been “at the forefront of our Covid-19 response".

“Recent events have shown the value of community pharmacy to the health service,” he said.

“Pharmacies have been at the forefront of our Covid-19 response, playing a pivotal role in delivering much needed services to our communities and the people who live in them.

“I know that Covid-19 generated new and different demands for pharmacies and you’ve worked hard to maintain access to medicines and expert pharmaceutical advice, as well as offering new services.”

Mr also said his department is continuing its efforts to ensure patients have access to medicines to the backdrop of Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol.

“EU exit and the Northern Ireland protocol have raised concerns of the supply and regulations of medicines. The goal of my department has always been to maintain the continuity of medicines supply and equity of access to treatment for all our people,” he said.

Ms Harrison said “things are looking brighter for community pharmacy in Northern Ireland” with plans to support the country’s pharmacy workforce as well as independent prescribing, regulation of technicians and investment in IT gathering pace.

“The support of the National Pharmacy Association will be absolutely critical to our success in this,” she said.

About £500 was raised on the evening for the mental health charity Inspire.

Pictured (L-R), NPA chair Andrew Lane, Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann, NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette, NPA treasurer Michael Guerin.




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