FEMPI Cuts Undermining Pharmacy Sector
- €2.2 billion taken from pharmacy sector since 2009
- Pharmacists have delivered on their commitments but still no Government engagement
IPU National Pharmacy Conference, 27 April 2018: The Government must provide a clear timetable for the restoration of funding to pharmacists that was repeatedly cut under the FEMPI legislation. The call came amid strong criticism from the President of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), Daragh Connolly, at their annual conference in Wexford today, who said that pharmacists were growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of Government engagement on the issue.
Speaking at the conference, Mr Connolly said, “There are currently over 1900 community pharmacies treating patients throughout the country. The majority (89%) of these remain family owned businesses each of whom bear the scars of FEMPI, which removed €2.2 billion in revenue from the sector between 2009 and 2017. With community pharmacies reliant on State payments for as much as two-thirds of turnover, and average turnover per pharmacy from State schemes down 33%, there is a severe risk to the sustainability of many community pharmacies. This is particularly acute in rural pharmacies and within disadvantaged areas; however this is a risk that the Government seems content to ignore.”
Mr Connolly said that there was a growing inequality in the treatment of community pharmacists that must be addressed. “FEMPI cuts are already being reversed elsewhere, with pay restored for public servants. Commitments have also been made to renegotiate contracts with other healthcare professionals including GPs. The inequality in treatment this creates is leading to growing anger and frustration among pharmacists.
“It is almost two years since the Government’s own FEMPI review recommended fees to pharmacists be re-examined,” said Mr Connolly referring to the 2016 Annual Review of FEMPI legislation. “That review recommended that payments to pharmacists be linked to Government health priorities and the expansion of services. We have enthusiastically embraced this opportunity and delivered on every commitment asked of us. In spite of this we have been left out in the cold with no sign as to when these disproportionate cuts will be alleviated.”
According to Mr Connolly, the ageing population and increase in the number of medical cards means that more medications are being dispensed under State schemes than ever before. “It is essential that pharmacists are compensated properly for their time and expertise in dispensing medication and providing essential advice to patients. The current professional dispensing fees are uneconomical and do not cover the costs associated with providing this vital service.
“It is now time that FEMPI cuts are reversed and the important role of community pharmacists is recognised and supported to ensure equity, fairness, and the sustainability of pharmacies in communities across the country”, concluded Mr Connolly.
Jim Curran, IPU Director of Communications & Strategy, 086 264 0469
Siobhán Kane, IPU Press and Communications Manager, 087 7751510
Graham Union, MKC Communications, 086 779 0744