IPU Pre-Budget Submission 2019

Community pharmacists provide unparalleled opportunity to meet Ireland’s future healthcare demands

  • Pharmacists demand the immediate unwinding of FEMPI.
  • Expanded role for pharmacists would alleviate pressure on health system.

22 August 2018: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has called for the immediate unwinding of FEMPI. According to a pre-Budget submission issued by the IPU, since 2009 the State has extracted over €3.1 billion from the community pharmacy sector with almost €1.4 billion through FEMPI measures alone.

Commenting on the submission, Daragh Connolly, IPU President said: “There are currently over 1,800 community pharmacies treating patients throughout the country. The majority (89%) of these remain family owned businesses, each of whom has been badly impacted by FEMPI cuts. The average pharmacy relies on State schemes for two-thirds of its revenues, but a decade of decline has seen the average turnover per pharmacy from State schemes decrease by a third.

“This is leading to huge pressures, particularly for pharmacies in rural and disadvantaged areas, and risks leading to closures if not immediately reversed. It is now long overdue that action is taken on FEMPI, that cuts are reversed and that the important role of community pharmacists is recognised to ensure equity, fairness and the sustainability of pharmacies in communities across the country.”

According to Mr Connolly, Irish community pharmacists could also be empowered to improve the services they can provide to patients nationwide. “Our submission detailed a number of proposals to expand the role of community pharmacists, which would alleviate the significant pressures on the healthcare system. With nearly 78 million visits to community pharmacies every year, pharmacists are the most accessed healthcare professionals in Ireland and expanding their role will provide significant benefits to both the patient and the State.”

Specific Proposals made by the IPU included:

  • Minor Ailment Scheme

A Minor Ailment Scheme could save nearly 950,000 GP consultations every year and keep the focus on primary healthcare in the community. The IPU has already collaborated with the Department of Health and the HSE on a pilot Minor Ailment Scheme, which enabled medical card patients to receive treatment for common illnesses, free of charge, directly from their local community pharmacy in a timely manner and without the need for a visit to the GP. The IPU is calling for this scheme to be rolled out nationally.

  • New Medicine Service

The IPU has also called for a New Medicine Service to be rolled out, which could be delivered within the community pharmacy setting. This service would improve adherence to medicines for people who have been newly prescribed medicines for certain long-term conditions or therapies, and would improve patients’ health outcomes by ensuring more effective medicine-taking. Economic analysis of a similar service which has operated in the UK since 2011, has found that it offers the NHS short-term savings of £75.4 million, and long-term savings of £517.6 million.

  • Phasing-out prescription levy

The IPU would also like to see a phasing-out of the medical card prescription levy, especially for those patients who are vulnerable or cannot afford to pay the levy. This would help to prevent patients with more complex medical needs being forced into advanced care in an already overburdened health system.

Mr Connolly concluded by stating, “Pharmacists are ready willing and waiting to enhance the levels of care they provide. The IPU has made several policy proposals to the Department of Health, which offered pharmacy-based solutions to primary healthcare deficits. We would like to see a greater role for pharmacists in supporting self care in line with other countries such as the UK, Canada and New Zealand.”


Notes to the Editor:

  1. Irish Pharmacy Union: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is the representative and professional body for community pharmacists. With over 2,300 members working in 1,761 pharmacies (95% of all community pharmacies), which directly and indirectly employ 26,000 people. Community pharmacists contribute over €2 billion to national GDP both directly and indirectly.
  2. A Minor Ailment Scheme would treat conditions such as Dry Eye, Dry Skin, Scabies, Threadworms and Vaginal Thrush.
  3. A New Medicine Service would treat conditions such as asthma, COPD, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, antiplatelet/anticoagulant therapy, statin therapy and chronic pain.
  4. The IPU pre-Budget Submission: The full submission detailing the IPU recommendations can be viewed here.

For further information contact: Sinéad Fennell, Communications Manager tel: 087 7751510.