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 March 2020
'Finance Minister Must Assist Businesses Through Coronavirus'
The Finance Minister has come under pressure to introduce measures to assist businesses suffering a downturn in trade as a result of coronavirus. Alliance MLA Andrew Muir said a number of firms are currently experiencing difficult times as customer habits change in response to the worldwide viral outbreak.
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.
13 March 2020
Nine New Covid-19 Cases Identified
Nine new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Northern Ireland. Work is underway to establish any contacts the individuals have had. It's unclear as yet whether the cases confirm the beginning of community transmission. A total of 321 people have been tested in recent weeks, of which 29 were positive.
13 March 2020
Sinn Fein Call For Immediate School Closures
Stormont's deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said schools, colleges and universities should close immediately. The Sinn Fein Vice President called for "decisive and coordinated action" to manage the spread of Covid-19.
28 January 2005
Minister announces additional £10m to fight waste
Over £10 million has been allocated to Northern Ireland’s 26 district councils with the express aim of combating waste across the province. Minister for the Environment Angela Smith said everyone needed to “Reduce, Re-use and Recycle” in order to tackle the scourge of waste.