IPU

IPU welcomes Minister Harris’ announcement that pharmacy contract talks will start in 2020

  • ‘Sensible’ decision not to proceed with savage cuts
  • Significant increase in resources urgently needed to ensure the viability of community pharmacy

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) welcomes the sensible decision by the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD not to proceed with the proposed savage cuts in fees to pharmacies and, instead, to recommit to early talks on a new pharmacy contract and on investment in pharmacy services.

Deep cuts to pharmacy fees were proposed by the Department of Health in October and, following a concerted effort by pharmacists to push back against these further fee cuts, Minister Harris met with the IPU yesterday evening and announced his decision not to introduce the cuts, but to leave fees as they are and to start contract talks early in the New Year.

Speaking after the meeting, IPU Secretary General Darragh O’Loughlin said, “after a decade of decline in payments for delivering services on behalf of the State, pharmacy businesses and their staff are under unsustainable pressure. While this reprieve is welcome, a significant increase in resources is urgently needed to meet the ever-increasing costs of providing the existing service, to ensure the viability of community pharmacy and to allow pharmacists to deliver on their commitment to ongoing service development and reform, which will have significant benefit for patients and the public.”

Mr O’Loughlin continued, “When the proposed cuts were announced in October, Ireland’s 2,300 community pharmacists were left deeply shocked and concerned and warned that these unfair and unjustifiable cuts would hit rural, disadvantaged and isolated pharmacies hardest. Any funding cuts would also go completely against the Government’s Sláintecare strategy, which aims to keep health services in the local community.

“We are pleased that Minister Harris kept the promise he made the National Pharmacy Conference in May this year, when he acknowledged the previous cuts to pharmacists’ incomes that had been imposed during the financial crisis and the resulting financial pain felt by pharmacists, and stated the Government’s intention to unwind those cuts. He also committed to starting talks on a new pharmacy contract.

“New contract talks will also include discussions on an expansion of healthcare services in pharmacy. As we continue into the winter months and a rising trolley count, this will deliver real benefits for patients and will take pressure off the rest of the health system and in particular overstretched Accident and Emergency Departments and GP clinics. We look forward to working with Minister Harris and his officials in the New Year, and ensuring Irish patients are able to fully benefit from the professional expertise of their local pharmacist.”

ENDS 

For further information contact:

Siobhán Kane, Press and Communications Manager, 087 775 1510