Act or pharmacies will be forced to close: MLA

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SDLP health spokesman Mark H. Durkan has called for a renewed community pharmacy strategy to help tackle a £20million shortfall in funding practitioners say they need to provide the vital service effectively.

Mr. Durkan is co-signatory, with the health spokespersons of all the political parties, of a letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, urging him to intervene.

Mr. Durkan signed the letter in support of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI), which says the funding crisis has led to some pharmacists closing their doors.

He said: “Community pharmacies are often the first point of contact for people to the health care service with around 123,000 people visiting a community pharmacy every day. Having met with CPNI and several local pharmacists in my own constituency, I’ve heard about the current funding crisis and the impact that punitive remuneration rates have on the high quality service that pharmacies deliver. Crucially, many of the issues within our health service could be resolved with increased investment in primary care.”

CPNI has argued an enhanced role for its members could relieve bottlenecks and pressure points elsewhere in primary health care.

Mr. Durkan said: “Community pharmacies have a central role in delivering community based healthcare services and the promotion of well-being.

“The best way to support this is by working with pharmacies and GPs to develop a renewed and effective community pharmacy strategy that will integrate and collaborate with the health service.”