Elderly Patients will suffer if the Health Minister does not act to negotiate a resolution to the dispute with Pharmacists – BREEN.

July 30th, 2009 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has warned today that elderly patients will suffer if the Health Minister, Mary Harney T.D. does not act to negotiate a resolution to the dispute which could result in the closure of up to 83% of pharmacies here in County Clare from the 1st August next. Deputy Breen is supporting calls for the appointment of a Mediator.

“I have received numerous phone calls from elderly people who are living in isolated areas of this County and they are extremely worried that they will not be able to receive their medication if this dispute goes ahead. In Clare, I understand that 30 pharmacists are involved in this dispute, that is 83% of the total pharmacies in this County and yet the HSE has only identified 12 locations nationally where drugs will be dispensed and none of these locations are in Clare.”

“Community pharmacists play a significant role in our rural communities similar to the Rural Post Office and the Rural Garda Station and we cannot afford to see any further services being removed from rural areas. After all, how can we expect elderly people to travel long distances to get their mediation, it is just not possible.”

“There are 1,600 pharmacies in Ireland. More than 1,100 have indicated they will withdraw services. There are 1.4million medical card patients in Ireland and hundreds of thousands more who avail of drugs payment and long term illness scheme.”

“A resolution of this dispute must be negotiated. I would urge Minister Harney even at this late stage to appoint a Mediator so that pharmacists and their representative group, the Irish Pharmacy Union, and the HSE can sit down find a solution. Failure to do so will put unnecessary stress and anxiety on many of our older people, worrying about how and where they will be able to get their medication.”

See Previous PQ tabled to Minister Harney for your information.

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children her plans to ensure the supply of medicines to the people of County Clare affected by the ongoing dispute between pharmacists and the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 7th July, 2009.

REPLY.
I am aware that a number of community pharmacists have indicated that they may withdraw from participation in the GMS and community drugs schemes in the light of my decision to reduce certain payments under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has written to all 1,600 community pharmacy contractors to clarify whether they intend to continue the provision of services under the GMS and community drugs schemes.

A contingency plan is being put in place by the HSE, and will be implemented if required, to ensure that supplies of medicines to patients under the GMS and community drugs schemes will continue in the event of discontinuation of services by community pharmacists.

I believe that threats of withdrawal from the community pharmacy contract are unjustified and not in patients’ interests. There can be no grounds for causing upset or anxiety about the supply of prescriptions to patients. In order to ensure patients are not inconvenienced in any way, I would urge community pharmacists to fulfil their professional obligations under the terms of their contracts.