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NI health minister praises pharmacies work during ‘unprecedented’ year

Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann has praised community pharmacy teams for their work during COVID-19 and in the face of the “unrelenting pressures” of this year.

Speaking as part of this year’s Ask Your Pharmacist week, Mr Swann thanked pharmacy teams for their ability to adapt “remarkably well to what were fast-changing circumstances”, in a video message posted on Twitter by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland earlier this week (November 2).

“I would like to thank our community pharmacy teams across Northern Ireland who are the first port of call for many people in need of healthcare, advice and support,” he said.

The Ask Your Pharmacist Week campaign, which runs November 2-9, is an annual initiative by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) that aims to promote pharmacy services to the public. This year’s theme is “Your local pharmacy in the NHS family”.

Adjusted to “continue to support people”

“This year we have seen unprecedented and unrelenting pressures applied to the whole health service,” Mr Swann said. “During the first wave of the pandemic our community pharmacies saw an increase in demand, with an additional 40,000 patients attending local pharmacies across Northern Ireland on a weekly basis.

“Community pharmacy teams adapted remarkably well to what were fast-changing circumstances and adjusted their services so they could continue to support people at what was a challenging time,” he added.

Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland CEO Gerard Greene welcomed Mr Swann’s comments, acknowledging the “incredible commitment by all our community pharmacy teams”.

"Our network of community pharmacies has reacted quickly to constantly changing circumstances, establishing new health and safety measures to protect staff and patients and working together to put in place an expanded range of services this winter – such as the flu vaccination and Pharmacy First ailments service – to help take the pressure off other parts of the health service,” Mr Greene told C+D yesterday (November 4):

To mark Ask Your Pharmacist week, C+D has collaborated with the NPA to highlight the work community pharmacy teams have done in partnership with other primary care professionals to ensure patient care continues despite the heavy demands of the pandemic. Read our feature to find out more.

The NPA has produced campaign material that can be downloaded here. Follow the campaign on social media using #AskYourPharmacist.

What do you make of what Mr Swann said this week?

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