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Pharmacy petition gains 75k signatures as fight heads to parliament

Secretary of state for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley will meet CPNI's Gerard Greene today
Secretary of state for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley will meet CPNI's Gerard Greene today

A “staggering” 75,000 people have now signed a petition as Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland heads to parliament for an “urgent meeting” with MPs.

The ‘save your local community pharmacy’ petition – launched by CPNI in May – has been signed by 70,500 patients and customers in person and attracted an additional 4,500 signatures online, the Northern Irish negotiator revealed on Monday (July 2).

CPNI claims the cost of providing community pharmacy services is currently under-funded “by at least £20 million”, with 81% of pharmacist respondents to a CPNI survey in May feeling the “current funding situation is having an impact on their own health and wellbeing”.

All 535 community pharmacies in Northern Ireland have participated in the campaign by encouraging patients and customers to sign the petition, and the negotiator expects the number of signatures to rise beyond 100,000 over the coming weeks, CPNI told C+D.

“Urgent meeting” in Westminster

Democratic Unionist Party MP for North Antrim Ian Paisley will facilitate an “urgent meeting” between CPNI and secretary of state for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley today (July 4), to place “pressure” on her to intervene, the negotiator said.

Commenting ahead of the meeting, CPNI chief executive Gerard Greene said: “We have brought our fight to Westminster as the current political vacuum in Northern Ireland means we are getting nowhere fast.”

The insufficient funding “is neither acceptable nor sustainable”, he added. “We are calling on the secretary of state to intervene urgently to address this growing crisis before the damage done is irreversible.”

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government “will continue to do what we can in the absence of [a functioning devolved government], to protect the delivery of vital public services” in Northern Ireland.

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