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Pharmacists support safe and effective medicines for all

Image of a pharmacist assisting a patient in a community pharmacy with the hashtag #WorldPharmacistsDay2019

Across Northern Ireland, 40 million prescriptions are dispensed every year by pharmacies, about 80000 items per pharmacy per year. On World Pharmacist Day (25 September) this year, we’re celebrating the role of Northern Ireland pharmacists in ensuring “safe and effective medicines for all”.

Pharmacists have an important role in keeping patients safe by helping improve medicine use and reducing medication errors.

Pharmacists in Northern Ireland were responsible for helping to reduce up to 5% of prescription errors last year. This equates to 800,000 prescription items that potentially have a problem that pharmacists are fixing.

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy, Health and Social Care Board said, “Pharmacists do more than just dispense medicine, they provide a very important service providing a clinical check to every prescription that is issued. They help ensure medicines are dispensed accurately so that the right medicine is dispensed to the right person to take the right way at the right time for the right duration.”

Following the roll out of the practice-based pharmacist initiative, each GP practice in Northern Ireland now has a pharmacist available to support GPs and other practice staff to improve patient care.

The benefits of this initiative mean these pharmacists can review patients’ medication and help free GPs time so. It’s estimated that each year, 600,000 patients on multiple medication who have recently been discharged from hospital benefit from having their medicines reviewed by these pharmacists.

Community pharmacists also support and help deliver a range of public health initiatives including high blood pressure, tobacco use, harmful misuse of alcohol, unhealthy diet, sexual health and substance misuse.