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NI pharmacies see £10.5m funding boost to help with COVID-19 outbreak

A £10.5m relief package to help community pharmacies deal with the pressure of the COVID-19 outbreak in Northern Ireland has been announced.

The announcement was made by health minister Robin Swann earlier this week (March 24), after a meeting with Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI).

Mr Swann acknowledged the “severe pressure” pharmacists are facing as the demand for prescription medicines has suddenly increased.

There is no need for patients to stockpile medicines as there are currently no shortages, he said.

Stocks "continually replenished"

Mr Swann said: "Pressure is being felt in community pharmacies by the staff who are working in challenging conditions and dealing with increasing demands for prescriptions.

“I want to reassure everyone that supplies of medicines are continually replenished. There is no need to stockpile. This creates a pressure on the system that will be felt by the most vulnerable in our society.”

The minister condemned news of attacks and abuse face by pharmacists as a result of the outbreak.

He said: “This is not acceptable. Everyone within the health and social care system is working at capacity to provide a service to patients.  They must be allowed to do their work in a safe environment and must have sufficient breaks.

“This why pharmacies will now operate different hours and I ask for public support and understanding at this time.”

C+D is working to understand what the new working hours will be.

Last week, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) called for “emergency funding” to deliver medicines to self-isolating patients and meet the increased demand.

AIMp chief executive, Leyla Hannbeck, said the sector needed more money if it is to continue to serve on the frontline of the pandemic.

PSNI last week (March 16) told C+D that it was halting planned industrial action in an effort to help with the pandemic.

Do you think this is enough additional funding?

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