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Harney must address impending rural pharmacy crisis - Doherty

26 September, 2007

Speaking in the Seanad this afternoon Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has urged the Government to facilitate a debate on the HSE decision to cut by 8% the cost prices of medicines paid for by the Executive to pharmacists.

The Donegal Senator said:

"I have today asked that Mary Harney explain to the house how she intends to the potential threat of rural pharmacies pulling out of the medical card scheme due to the HSE's decision.

"This is a very serious issue of concern for medical card holders and indeed rural pharmacists.

"Without ministerial intervention this situation is likely to have major repercussions for thousands of medical card holders if local pharmacies withdraw from the General Medical Card scheme.

"Rural pharmacists have stated that under these new HSE payment measures they would no longer be able to remain in business.

"This worrying development poses a real threat to the existence of local pharmacy services in Donegal and throughout rural areas.

"Local rural communities have already suffered the loss of post offices and other amenities and are now in danger of losing a vital local health resource.

"If this situation is allowed to deteriorate, some people may have to travel 75km and further simply to access their nearest pharmacy. This will be particularly harsh on the elderly in areas with poor public transport provision.

"I am urging Minister Harney and the HSE to immediately acknowledge this problem and to intervene to ensure that rural people do not suffer from a widespread withdrawal of vital local pharmacies." Deireadh

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