Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (284, 334, 335, 339)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

284. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health when he plans to unwind FEMPI for pharmacists in view of the fact that this process has been initiated for other healthcare professionals; the proposed cuts in pharmacy fees from January 2020; if his Department has reviewed the way in which this will affect the community pharmacy industry especially in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48665/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

334. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that rural and smaller independent pharmacies will be most affected by the proposed new pharmacy fee scheme; his plans to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49013/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

335. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health the reason for the current proposed changes to the pharmacy fee scheme; his views on whether this is fair and equitable in view of the understanding that most small independent pharmacies look set to be hit by over €35,000 per year as a result; his plans to amend the proposed fee scheme going forward in order that it gives back to the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49014/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

339. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health the status of the unwinding of FEMPI (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49044/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 284, 334, 335 and 339 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.

The 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 1 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 been undertaking a process of consultation with the IPU, as the representative body, prior to the introduction of new fee regulations. My officials have met with an IPU delegation on two occasions and a detailed submission was received from the IPU on 8 November.

That submission is currently being considered by my Department in the context of the statutory fee-setting process.

In May of this year I addressed the Irish Pharmaceutical Union at the National Pharmacy Conference and gave a commitment to move beyond the arrangements underpinned by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 (FEMPI) with a view to optimising the role of pharmacists in the years ahead. In that context, it is my intention to open discussions in 2020 on a root and branch review of the current contract. Issues such as those raised by the Deputy will form part of that review.