by Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management, Health and Social Care Board
The Health Minister, Robin Swann, recently announced a £13.25 million funding package for community pharmacy.
This package is designed to help build on the great work carried out by community pharmacies during this Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure the sector is well prepared, should we find ourselves experiencing a second surge.
While other shops and businesses were forced to close, community pharmacies in neighbourhoods and high streets across Northern Ireland remained open, providing patients with medicine and health advice.
They also supported local GPs and Care Homes with prescription pick up and collection services.
Community pharmacies inadvertently found themselves facing a huge demand for their services as the pandemic started. Prescription volumes rose by 15% or an extra 0.5million items in March this year compared with last year.
Social distancing measures meant many that patients experienced lengthy queues outdoors and, on occasion, tempers frayed as the increased demand meant prescriptions often took longer to prepare.
I want to thank the staff of community pharmacies for how they adapted to the situation and continued to deliver services, patiently explaining new prescription collection procedures and offering expert health advice and reassurance at a time of crisis.
This new funding will cover the following services from July 2020:
This funding will be available up to March 2021 and is in addition to the annual funding for community pharmacy of £112.4m agreed for 2020/21. It is the result collaborative working between the Department of Health, Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) and the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB).