I wish to acknowledge the vital role that pharmacies play in their communities. The Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment to expand the role of community pharmacy in managing patient health, and this is an issue I intend to progress.
Work has been done in recent years on wider healthcare roles for pharmacies, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s Future Pharmacy report, concerning expansion of professional pharmacy practice. It is clear from this and other work that there is potential to increase the range of publicly funded health services delivered through community pharmacy. Important new services, in influenza vaccination and emergency contraception, have already been introduced.
To be funded by the taxpayer, new public services in community pharmacy, as elsewhere, should improve health outcomes and provide value for money and benefits for patients. Any new or transferred services should be based on sound evidence with matching improvements in governance and administration.
My Department has received numerous submissions from the Irish Pharmacy Union since 2011 in relation to pharmacy service expansion in a number of areas. I recently met with the Irish Pharmacy Union to discuss, among other things, the issue of expansion of public and private pharmacy services.