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Health Minister must act to protect rural pharmacies‏

26 October, 2011

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay brought the plight of community pharmacies to the floor of the Assembly today. Mr McKay said that many pharmacies across the north have reached crisis point as a result of decisions by the Department of Health. 

The Sinn Féin motion called on the Health Minister to put in place a contingency plan to protect pharmacy services and was unanimously supported by all parties.

Mr McKay said "Pharmacies are at the heart of communities, in particular rural communities, and staff carry out some exemplary work that go over and above their role as pharmacists.

"The sector has been hit by 30% cutbacks of some £38million and more will go to the wall over the next number of weeks if this situation is not addressed. All pharmacies are asking for is fairness and the Minister should work with them to develop a co-ordinated approach.

"Pharmacies should be viewed as a frontline service given the multitude of services they provide and their work within communities and far beyond the walls of their premises. The Department of Health need to be cognisant of the role the 21st Century pharmacist provides and the effect that these cutbacks will have on rural areas and in particular those most vulnerable within those communities.

"I am glad that the Assembly has backed our motion calling on the Health Minister to put in place a contingency plan. Sinn Féin introduced an Investing for Health strategy here through Bairbre de Brún and recognise fully that prevention is better than the cure. The Minister should wake up to the fact that when we invest in our pharmacies we save in terms of Health costs and thus relieve the pressure on health services."

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