Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Questions (305, 341, 343, 344, 347, 379, 382, 413, 450)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

305. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the reason for replacing phased dispensing fees and replacing them with a capitation fee; if his attention has been drawn to the effects on pharmacists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51366/19]

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Stephen Donnelly

Question:

341. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the reason for new cuts being imposed on pharmacists [51244/19]

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Stephen Donnelly

Question:

343. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if the imposition of new cuts to pharmacists will lead to the closure of pharmacies. [51246/19]

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Stephen Donnelly

Question:

344. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the timeline for the implementation of new services to be carried out by pharmacists. [51247/19]

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Michael Harty

Question:

347. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Health his plans to save village and small town pharmacies in rural areas in view of the fact that pharmacists are now the only profession to have no fee restoration under FEMPI despite his promise in May 2019 to start talks (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51259/19]

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Seán Sherlock

Question:

379. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health his plans to honour the commitment made at a conference (details supplied) in May 2019 to unwind FEMPI and increase investment and expansion of healthcare services in pharmacies; and his further plans to pursue cuts to the sector. [51351/19]

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Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

382. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health when FEMPI cuts to pharmacies will be reversed; if the HSE will enter into meaningful talks with a union (details supplied) regarding new contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51368/19]

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Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

413. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if talks have commenced with the representative body for pharmacy contractors regarding new fee regulations, the reform and modernisation of pharmacy services and the unwinding of FEMPI for community pharmacists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51628/19]

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John Curran

Question:

450. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health if no further cuts will be made to payments made to pharmacists in advance of the full unwinding of FEMPI and the negotiation of a new pharmacy contact and new pharmacy services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51773/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 305, 341, 343, 344, 347, 379, 382, 413 and 450 together.

I recognise the significant role community pharmacists play in the delivery of patient care and the potential for this role to be developed further in the context of health service reform and modernisation. Community pharmacy is recognised as the most accessible element of our health service with an unequalled reach in terms of patient contact and access.

Regulations governing the current pharmacy fee structure were made under section 9 of the FEMPI Act 2009 and are set to expire at the end of 2019. Under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, these regulations must be replaced on 1st January 2020 to maintain a statutory basis for contractor payments and to prescribe the fees payable from that date.

In keeping with my obligations under Section 43 of the 2017 Act, my officials have undertaken a process of consultation with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), as the representative body for the profession. My officials have met with an IPU delegation on two occasions where proposed fee restructuring was discussed. A detailed submission was received from the IPU. This consultation process has now concluded.

I met with the IPU on the 5th December, where I reiterated my intention to move beyond the arrangements underpinned by the FEMPI regulations and to commence a comprehensive review of the pharmacy contract. In this context I also communicated my intention to maintain the current fee structure from 1 January 2020.

The comprehensive review of the pharmacy contract in 2020 will address the role to be played by community pharmacy in the context of Sláintecare. It will consider all aspects of pharmacy service provision including delivery of a multi-disciplinary model of service delivery for patients, ensuring clarity of roles and achieving optimum value for money.

However, any publicly funded pharmacy service expansion should address unmet public healthcare needs, improve access to existing public health services or provide better value for money or patient outcomes. Accordingly, any measures to be considered must be evidence based.

New secondary legislation is currently being drafted in order to give effect to the prescribed fee structure, as required under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.