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 have discussed these and other issues with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU). My officials expect to engage in discussions with the IPU on future contractual and service arrangements early in the New Year.