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Northern Ireland injects £8m into pharmacy medicines adherence service

Community pharmacies in Northern Ireland can soon start offering a reinvigorated medicines adherence service, backed by an £8 million investment, the Department of Health (DoH) has announced.

The funding boost – which was agreed following “extensive discussions” between the DoH, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) – will support “the phased introduction” of a new medicines adherence service in community pharmacies in Northern Ireland, the DoH announced yesterday (March 22).


Read more: Pharmacies in Northern Ireland halt unfunded medicines adherence service for new patients


In the initial phase of the rollout, the service will support patients discharged from hospital who may have complex needs relating to their medication, the DoH added.


Renewal of halted service


In November 2021, C+D reported that community pharmacy contractors in Northern Ireland had voted to stop offering an unfunded medicine adherence service to new patients, citing “mounting” workforce pressures and a lack of investment.

With an additional £8m, pharmacies may be able to start implementing the new medicines adherence service “in phases over the coming months”, allowing for “a standard approach for new patients who need access to additional support”, the DoH wrote.

The service aims to support patients who are “at high risk of harm from poor adherence to their medication” stick to their treatment routine.


Read more: What we can learn from pharmacy remuneration models around the world


Health minister Robin Swann said he was “delighted” to make the announcement for additional investment during a visit to the Dundela Pharmacy in Belfast.

Chief pharmaceutical officer Cathy Harrison said the funds will “help ensure that services can be developed to provide tailored support to people who need help to take their medicines safely, on time and as prescribed”.

Meanwhile, CPNI chief executive Gerard Greene described the investment into the medicines adherence service as “welcome and much needed”.

He argued that the new plans for the service “will allow community pharmacists to work directly with hospitals”.

“This will have a positive impact in getting patients out of hospital more quickly and will mean they can be cared for at home,” he added.


New pharmacy commissioning plan announced


An agreement was also reached for a three-year community pharmacy commissioning plan for 2022-25, which is “subject to funding being in place”, Mr Swann announced.

It builds on “the successful commissioning agreements that have been in place over the last two years” and will provide a roadmap for community pharmacy services over the next 36 months, he added.

The plan also “prioritises and seeks to extend clinical services from community pharmacies”, head of pharmacy and medicines management at the HSCB, Joe Brogan, said.

Services being considered under the new commissioning plan include a discharge medicines service, a care home service, and a hypertension service.

“The right IT infrastructure” is also needed to ensure that community pharmacies can access to patient records and that “patients are getting the right medicines every time”, according to a document outlining the commissioning plan.

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