Patient safety at risk says community pharmacy body

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Gerard Greene, Chief Executive, Community Pharmacy NI

A public petition calling on the Department of Health to save the local community pharmacy network in Northern Ireland has now reached 75,000 signatures.

The petition which is displayed in every community pharmacy in Northern Ireland, has been signed by more than 70,500 patients and customers in person with 4,500 adding their support online.

The petition was launched in reaction to the crisis in community pharmacy in Northern Ireland which is under sustained attack due to Government cuts and consistent underfunding.

Currently there is a deficit of at least £20m in funding provided to community pharmacy meaning that community pharmacists are dispensing many medicines at a loss, putting many under unacceptable financial pressures. Many have said that the current situation is putting patient safety at risk as workforce issues have increased the chances of mistakes being made.

Patients who have signed the petition are expressing worry and fear that they may not be able to get the medicines they need to manage their conditions and that the closure of their local pharmacy could have severe consequences for public health.

The petition is expected to reach over 100,000 as the groundswell of support grows.

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive, Community Pharmacy NI said: “There has been a huge reaction to this petition which was only launched last month. People have been coming out in their tens of thousands to show their support.

“There is unmistakable evidence of just how reliant many are on their local chemist. We have been inundated with calls about the level of fear of losing such as vital service by potential pharmacy closures.”

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