Community pharmacists at 'breaking point' due to underfunding of services
PHARMACISTS from across Northern Ireland have been left "at breaking point" due to a funding crisis in community services, a meeting his heard.
More than 100 pharmacists met in Belfast on Wednesday night to express their frustration and call for action.
Community Pharmacy NI said services are under-funded by at least £20 million.
The organisation said around 90 per cent of pharmacists feel the "current funding situation is having an impact on their own health and wellbeing".
At the meeting, a direct appeal was made to Richard Pengelly, permanent secretary of the Department of Health, to alleviate the problems and release funding to stop the decline within community pharmacy services.
Gerard Greene, chief executive of Community Pharmacy NI, said 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," he said.
"Some contractors have told us that they are ready to go out of business. This is unacceptable and must be urgently addressed.
"We are calling for clear and fair remuneration and reimbursement so that investment can take place to meet safety, quality and efficacy requirements. At present that just does not exist."