It is extremely regrettable that community pharmacy representatives have advised that access to rota pharmacies in some parts of Northern Ireland will be reduced over the Easter holidays.
They have also stated that despite a commitment of recurrent investment, support for new patients assessed by Trusts as requiring blister packs may be restricted. These actions have the potential to impact on patients and other parts of the Health and Social Care system.
We fully understand that many sectors across health and social care are seeking additional funding.
However, recent representations from CPNI in respect of an increase of up to 50% for their sector are unrealistic, particularly in the current financial climate. Financial pressures across the entire NI public sector are severe with an extremely challenging health budget anticipated for 2023/24.
The Department is therefore facing a significant funding gap just to maintain existing services and the whole Health and Social Care system is an extremely unpredictable and fragile position.
The core funding envelope available to community pharmacies in NI has increased by 16% over the past three years.
Research conducted by the Department has shown that the level of government funding for community pharmacies in NI compares very favourably with other parts of the UK.
Advice on Easter weekend rota pharmacies
The Department has been informed that number of community pharmacies are unwilling to provide a rota service this Easter Sunday (9 April).
The public is advised to go to their local pharmacy during normal opening hours this week and on Saturday 8 April in particular to collect their prescriptions and avail of pharmacy services. There will be some pharmacy rota provision on Easter Sunday but not necessarily in the normal areas. The Department appreciates that some pharmacies will continue to provide rota services this Easter despite the current difficulties.
Further details on the availability of rota is available on the hscbusiness website.