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Community pharmacists in Northern Ireland at 'breaking point' due to escalating financial pressures

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI, said community pharmacists are at "breaking point"
Marie Louise McConville

PHARMACISTS in Northern Ireland are at "breaking point" due to escalating financial pressures, a new survey has found.

The Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI) survey has warned that underfunding of community pharmacies by the Department of Health has left the industry in a critical state.

In the survey, around 87 per cent of pharmacies revealed they were "very worried about their own businesses" while 81 per cent stated that the "current funding situation is having an impact on their own health and wellbeing".

CPNI said a funding shortfall had been "compounded" by "unprecedented generic medicines shortages" leaving community pharmacists" facing a daily struggle".

The organisation said when the medicines are sourced, pharmacists "find themselves paying more than ten times the usual price, all without knowing if they will be fully reimbursed."

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI, said community pharmacists are "at breaking point as the realities of managing their businesses on a day to day basis, whilst serving patients and customers, is causing severe strain".

"The cost of providing the community pharmacy service is hugely underfunded due to a shortfall in what the Department of Health is willing to allocate, and the cost of keeping community pharmacies open.

"The real impact is that eight in ten of the business owning community pharmacists have told us that the funding situation is having an impact on their own health and wellbeing. Some contractors have told us that they are reaching breaking point. This is unacceptable and must be urgently addressed.”

Mr Greene, who revealed some pharmacies are in danger of closing, said: " We now need the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health to follow through with this commitment and support and release the funding to arrest the decline within community pharmacy.”

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