Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (257)

Michael Healy-Rae


257. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the budget for pharmacists (details supplied) in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40786/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there is no specific budget allocated to pharmacists, however, as contractors, pharmacists are paid a fee to dispense medication under a number of community schemes. In 2018, community pharmacy contractors were paid in the region of €400m in fee payments under these schemes.

I value the role pharmacists play in the Irish health service. As you are aware, the Programme for a Partnership Government and the Sláintecare implementation strategy contain commitments to expanding the role of community pharmacy in managing patient health in the community.

Work has been done in recent years on wider healthcare roles for pharmacies, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s Future Pharmacy report, on the expansion of professional pharmacy practice. It is clear from this and other work that there is potential to increase the range of both private and publicly funded health services delivered through community pharmacy. Important new services, such as 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) when these and other issues were discussed. My officials will be engaging with the IPU on new fee regulations before the end of the year and the intention is to broaden the discussions to contractual and service arrangements during 2020.