Community Pharmacists Vote To Take Industrial Action

Community pharmacists have voted to take industrial action in a last resort measure to ensure the safety of patients.

Some 98% of pharmacy contractors voted to press ahead with the action on Monday.

It comes amid a prolonged struggle against funding pressures and a "work-force crisis".

Hundreds of thousands of people visit a pharmacy in their community every day, a vital link between patients and their GPs.

Health Minister Robin Swann has come under pressure to resolve the matter after representatives from 498 pharmacies attended a closed meeting on Monday night, with many reporting that their services have reached a "breaking point".

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw urged the Minister to take immediate steps to avoid the action, no dates or details of which have emerged as yet.

The south Belfast MLA said: "They are more than just medical professionals. For many people, they are an integral part of the community, working long hours to provide expert guidance as the true frontline for the health service in every locality.
News Image
"What is needed is £20 million – a tiny share of the overall health budget – which would provide real value not just because it would secure the future of frontline medical professionals, but because it would restore a central pillar of every community in Northern Ireland.

"The Minister must heed the warning that this is small money for a big difference."

SDLP Health spokesperson Sinead Bradley MLA said there is no evidence of any practical support from the Department.

"It is a damning indictment of this lack of support, that 98% of community pharmacies feel no other option but to take industrial action," the south Down MLA commented.

"Across the North community pharmacists are struggling; government funding has been cut, and local chemist shops are having to make staff redundant and reduce opening hours, ultimately damaging our communities.

"Some years ago, the Compton Review, reinforced by the Bengoa plan, envisaged an enhanced role for Community Pharmacy in the transformation of how healthcare is provided here, but this intransigence will, I fear, lead to chemist closures and will have a severe impact on people’s access to healthcare."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 November 2002
£3m announced for north Belfast community groups
A £3 million funding package aimed at developing communities in north Belfast to encourage dialogue and partnership has been announced by the NIO today.
15 August 2002
Focus shifts to peace conference and community projects
After weeks of paramilitary violence and civil unrest the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) is refocusing its efforts on the benefits of the current peace process.
08 April 2002
Minister's updated on North Belfast Community Action Project
First Minister, David Trimble, and Deputy First Minister, Mark Durkan, have met with the Chairman of the North Belfast Community Action Project, Rev Dr John Dunlop and his Vice Chairmen, Monsignor Tom Toner and Mr Roy Adams.
29 May 2008
Welcome For Antrim Project's Job Creation
A new community-based develoment which is creating employment opportunities in Co Antrim has been welcomed by the NI Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie. She helped to launch the new, mixed-use resource and business project in Antrim town.
07 September 2001
Grants programme aims to promote healthier communities
The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Bairbre de Brún, has announced a new grants programme to help and encourage community groups to tackle health issues in their communities. The Investing for Healthier Communities Grants Programme will provide an extra £2.