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Peer calls on UK government to curb ‘developing crisis’ for NI pharmacies

Lives will be placed at risk if a “swift resolution” to Northern Ireland’s community pharmacy funding crisis cannot be found, a senior peer has warned.

Lord Rogan tabled a written parliamentary question last week (November 25), asking the UK government to reveal what discussions it has had with Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) about funding for pharmacies in the country.

Read more: Emergency review of community pharmacy services in Northern Ireland announced

This came after CPNI sounded the alarm over a “major spike” in drug costs. It warned that these could leave Northern Irish pharmacies unable to supply patients with medicines treating osteoporosis, high blood pressure, insomnia, mental health and coronary conditions.

“I am gravely concerned about this developing crisis and the lack of urgency which UK government ministers seem to be showing towards it,” Lord Rogan said.

He described the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DH) offer of £5.3 million to address the situation as “far short of the £20 to 30m that CPNI says is required”.

Read more: Northern Ireland drug supply crisis: £5.3m support package not enough

Lord Rogan’s written parliamentary question aimed “to prompt some proactive engagement between UK ministers and CPNI, because the consequences of not finding a swift resolution to this issue are potentially devastating”.

“Lives are undoubtedly at risk,” he added.

It follows Northern Ireland’s Department of Health (DoH) launching an emergency review into community pharmacy services in the country earlier this month.


Rural pharmacies in peril


Lord Rogan estimated that skyrocketing drug costs are likely to affect “smaller pharmacies in rural parts of Northern Ireland which local people depend upon so much”.

“I am especially worried about [their] fate,” he said.

He urged “Northern Ireland Office ministers to step forward and take responsibility for the health and wellbeing of people living in the province”.


December meeting to address issues


The DoH’s Permanent Secretary, Peter May, met with CPNI last week (November 24).

A DoH spokesperson told C+D that Mr May, DoH officials and CPNI discussed “the current challenges facing the sector and the urgent work ongoing to address a number of issues”.

“There was agreement to meet again in December,” the spokesperson added.

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