Pharmacists Highly Critical of Lack of Progress on Implementing Government Healthcare Strategy

  • Patients suffer as little done to promote healthcare agenda
  • Pharmacists question whether Government is serious about tackling health crisis given lack of action

IPU National Pharmacy Conference Saturday 28 April: In a strongly worded address at the opening of the IPU’s National Pharmacy Conference being held in Wexford, IPU President Daragh Connolly was highly critical of the Government’s lack of progress on the implementation of their healthcare strategy, identifying that little has been done to promote primary health care, with patients and the public suffering as a result.

Referring to the Sláintecare report, published last May, and promoted at the time as the cornerstone of the Government’s Healthcare Strategy, Mr Connolly said: “Here is a strategy which makes absolute sense in moving health out of secondary care into primary care, and treating patients in their own communities. The difficulty is that the Government’s approach to reorienting the health service towards primary care is creating an over reliance on GP services, that GPs themselves say is unsustainable.

“The fundamental flaw in the strategy is the failure to recognise and utilise the potential of pharmacists, whose contribution to primary care has been recognised internationally. Community pharmacists in Ireland can play a greater role, which would free up more capacity in local GP clinics which are already struggling under their ever-increasing workloads.”

Local pharmacists are in a unique position to expand their role as healthcare providers for the benefit of both patients and the State. There already exists a very high level of interaction between the general public and pharmacists every day in every town, village and community in Ireland, 81% of the public visit a pharmacy at least once a month. Research confirms that 86% of the public rate their pharmacy experience as good or very good and 74% of patients value the advice of their pharmacist.

People want to be able to access a greater number of services from their local pharmacy, such as a Minor Ailment Scheme and a New Medicines Service that would support people with certain long term conditions. Pharmacists in other countries, including Canada and the UK, already have these schemes in place. The IPU has submitted proposals on these and many other potential new services to the Department of Health and the HSE, but have failed to date to receive an adequate response. This is unacceptable.

Continuing, Mr Connolly said, “It is clear and obvious that the Government needs to invest in enhanced pharmacy-based services, which have been shown to real benefits in terms of patient outcomes, have proven cost savings to the State and free up key essential services in GPs and Emergency Departments. It is a no-brainer.”

In conclusion Mr Connolly said, “The time for talking is over. If the Minister for Health and the Government are serious about tackling the healthcare crisis and promoting primary care, they need to immediately engage with community pharmacists to progress the healthcare agenda and introduce new pharmacy-based services that are ready to roll out; this will benefit patients and in turn take pressure off a system on its knees.”


Further information: Jim Curran, IPU Director of Communications & Strategy, 086 264 0469

Siobhán Kane, IPU Press and Communications Manager, 087 7751510
Graham Union, MKC Communications, 086 7790744