Bitter Pill For Community Pharmacies


Retail NI is urging businesses to back the campaign to Save Your Community Pharmacy before many could be forced to shut.

Retail NI, the membership organisation which represents thousands of independent retail traders in Northern Ireland, has backed the campaign to save local community pharmacies, which are under attack due to a lack of financial support from the Department of Health.

Glyn Roberts, Retail NI Chief Executive, has urged everyone in the business community to sign the Community Pharmacy NI petition to address the worrying fact that local pharmacists are dispensing at a loss and require an emergency package to plug a £20 million funding gap … before many pharmacies are forced to shut.

Pharmacies under attack: (l-r) Paul Savage, Community Pharmacist; Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive, Retail NI; and Gerard Greene, Chief Executive, Community Pharmacy NI.

Glyn Roberts explained that prior to the collapse of the NI Assembly, the last Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, outlined a commitment to continue to develop and resource community pharmacy-based initiatives over the next 10 years. However, this is now in jeopardy due to the fact that the Department of Health is under funding the cost of providing community pharmacy services by at least £20m.

This funding shortfall has been compounded in recent months by unprecedented generic medicines shortages leaving community pharmacists and their staff with a daily struggle to find many of the medicines needed by their patients. When they do source the items required, they can find themselves paying more than ten times the usual price, all without knowing if they will be fully reimbursed.

Like any other business, community pharmacists have similar financial pressures such as rates, rent, staff wages, taxes and general upkeep. This coupled with the rising incidence of violent crime on local chemists, medicine shortages, rising demand and a deepening workforce crisis, means that there are a plethora of issues they are faced with.

Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Retail NI added: “Community Pharmacy is a great example of a sector which has been firmly rooted for decades in the towns and villages across Northern Ireland. They are normally anchor tenants and play a vital role in the vibrancy of many areas.”

 “It is the most accessible part of the health service and could be regarded as the heartbeat of the high street. But due to underfunding by the Department of Health, it is currently under attack which means that some pharmacies could close, and close soon. We simply can’t let that happen.

 “We cannot afford more vacant units on the high street, especially those of the local pharmacist who provides much needed healthcare in a community setting. In fact, community pharmacy has an extremely important role in driving footfall for other forms of retail and services and should not be overlooked in the other parts that they play – socially and economically.

 “We have recently joined the campaign to ‘Save Your Pharmacy’ and call on everyone to add their name to the fight and sign their petition at “

Community Pharmacy NI Welcomes Retail NI Support

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive, said: “We welcome the support from Retail NI and the boost it has given our campaign. We fully commend Glyn and his team in understanding just how important community pharmacy is to the high street, the wider retail offering, and the front-line healthcare that it provide to tens of thousands of people every day across Northern Ireland.”

 “This is an extremely difficult period for community pharmacy. We are now coming to critical point when some pharmacists are being forced to make tough decisions which may force them to close causing hundreds of job losses across Northern Ireland and a hugely negative impact on patients and customers. We urge as many in the business community to support our campaign and sign the petition before it is too late.”

Community pharmacies in Northern Ireland are currently under sustained attack due to:

* Prolonged Government underfunding;

* Additional funding cuts made in 2017/18;

* A funding model which sees many medicines dispensed at a loss

* Medicine shortages

*  Rising demand

*  Workforce crisis

*  Rising incidence of violent crime.

Sign the petition at: