I wish to advise the Deputy that the employment of community pharmacists is a commercial matter for the pharmacy sector and my Department has no role in this area.
The Deputy will be aware that 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 health 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.
I recently met with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) and I attended their conference in Galway and these and other issues were discussed in both forums. It is my intention that further consultation will be carried out in 2019.