I propose to take Questions Nos. 266 and 267 together.
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 which 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 both private and 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) where 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 wider contract issues in 2020.
It is my intention to commence a broader discussion on contractual and service arrangements following this in 2020.