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NI health minister approves £5m increase in pharmacy’s retained margin


NI health minister approves £5m increase in pharmacy’s retained margin

Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann told the Northern Ireland Assembly this week that he has approved a £5 million increase of community pharmacy’s retained margin which will take it from £26.5 million to £31.5 million.

Swann (pictured in 2021) said his pledge was dependent on Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland agreeing to a concurrent margin survey methodology which “becomes a target rather than the minimum threshold.”

Swann said he had also approved non-recurrent funding of £4 million associated with medicines and hearing services pressures.

“It is not that there are no moneys there. I have already made those commitments to CPNI and we continue to engage as to how we can progress and support it,” he said.

DUP MLA for Belfast North Brian Kingston had challenged Swann over whether he was aware of “the crisis in funding for community pharmacies” with a particular focus on two issues; that the drug tariff paid in Northern Ireland “follows the English rate and, in many cases, is below the actual cost of the medicine.” And that a government funding clawback is at 9.7 per cent and “due to double.”

Kingston asked Swann if he was “seeking a review to ensure the viability and continuation” of community pharmacies in Northern Ireland.

“Community pharmacies continue to play a pivotal role in delivering health services to communities in Northern Ireland. They have been, and continue to be, some of our most accessible healthcare professionals, and they were on the front line of community health during the Covid response,” Swann said.

He insisted the Department of Health “recognises the fundamental role that community pharmacies have been carrying out and has repeatedly acknowledged the concerns that have been raised” by CPNI.

However, Swann said there was “no provision for additional funding for the community pharmacy sector in the current assessed budget available to health.”

“That is disappointing in the context of our overall package. The Department is working on that, and we are facing significant financial difficulties, but I want to work as closely as possible in partnership with community pharmacies,” he said.

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