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Health Minister must intervene in Donegal Pharmacy Crisis

27 March, 2008

Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has today expressed dismay at news that forty of fifty-one pharmacies in Donegal have written to the HSE stating their intention to withdraw from their contracts with the body from May 1st. Senator Doherty has today written to Minister Harney demanding that the Department of Health intervene immediately to facilitate talks between the IPU and HSE.

Senator Doherty said, "Forty out of fifty-one pharmacies in Donegal have written to the HSE to announce that as of the first of May they will withdraw from their contracts with the HSE to supply medication to the public. I have also heard that other areas are to follow this action.

"This is the result of Health Minister Mary Harney's decision to cut payments to pharmacies under the drugs payment scheme. She recklessly stood idly by and failed to intervene in the dispute between the Health Service Executive and the Irish Pharmacies Union. She has failed in her duties and it is the sick and vulnerable who will suffer as a result - as will local pharmacies.

"This morning I have written to the Minister to demand that she intervene in this crisis immediately and offer to facilitate talks between the IPU and the HSE. We now have six weeks to resolve this impending crisis for the people of Donegal and it is essential that the Minister prioritises the issue in the coming weeks. She must insist that the HSE makes itself available for crisis talks with the IPU and that they enter those talks with an open mind.

"If this dispute cannot be averted then it is essential that contingency plans are set in place that minimise the implications for patients who need their medication. The HSE must guarantee the continued supply of medication with qualified staff. We need to know how the HSE intend to store refrigerated medication; there are also regulations to consider particularly for controlled medication distribution such as methadone. These are all huge issues and it is hard to see how practically the HSE can cope with all of these factors in any contingency plans they deliver." CRÍOCH

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