The community pharmacy sector in Northern Ireland has been handed more than £11 million in additional funding over the next 16 months.
Talks between the Department of Health and Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) resulted in an agreement to inject more funds into an ailing pharmacy network, with £11.1 million to be provided up to March 2020 on top of the £104 million a year funding already confirmed for 2018/19 and 2019/20.
The Department said that of the additional revenue, £9 million will be made available up to March 31 2020 “to address immediate pressures within the community pharmacy network and support services for patients in social care settings.”
That, the Department added, would include more support for pharmacies in rural areas.
Another £2.1 million will go towards the launch of a Pharmacy First service during winter to help patients treat common conditions.
The Department said: “Consideration is also being given to further proposals for transformation funding to increase access to pharmaceutical care for patients, utilise the expertise of pharmacists, promote professional co-operation and build capacity in the health system.”
Richard Pengelly, the Department of Health’s permanent secretary, said: “Community pharmacies are often the first point of contact for patients seeking advice on their health, accessing the safe supply of medicines, treatment of common complaints and important public health services.
“The additional funding being announced today will help ensure that local populations have access to the most visited provider among all of the health services available.”
CPNI chief executive Gerard Greene recently criticised the Department for failing to heed warnings that pharmacies were struggling financially, with suppliers and wholesalers writing to ministers cautioning that pharmacies’ poor credit would severely hinder their ability to buy and stock medicines.