Written answers

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Photo of Seán HaugheySeán Haughey (Dublin Bay North, Fianna Fail)
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603. To ask the Minister for Health if FEMPI cuts imposed on community pharmacists will be reversed; if these pharmacies will be awarded a fee increase given the fact that their running costs have increased exponentially over the past 12 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44980/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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As the Minster for Health, I recognise the significant role community pharmacists play in the delivery of patient care and acknowledge the potential for this role to be developed further in the context of health service reform. Community pharmacy is recognised as the most accessible element of our health service with an unequalled reach in terms of patient contact. Community pharmacists have played a central role in the national vaccination rollout – the largest ever undertaken by the State.

The regulations governing the pharmacy fee structure that were made under section 9 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act 2009 expired at the end of 2019. Under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, these regulations had to be replaced by 1 January 2020 in order to maintain a statutory basis for contractor payments and to prescribe the fees payable from that date.

The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 (Payments to Community Pharmacy Contractors) Regulations 2019 – S.I. No. 639 of 2019 – gave effect to the current pharmacy fees. Any future changes to the pharmacy fee structure will need to be made by regulations under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017. The fees to be set are determined by the Minister for Health, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the Health Service Executive established a Community Pharmacy Contingency Planning working group with relevant stakeholders, including the Irish Pharmaceutical Union and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, to support the implementation of all COVID-19 support measures. This group – now called the Community Pharmacy Planning Forum – had examined the operational and clinical challenges confronting community pharmacists during the COVID-19 emergency and played a key role in resolving them to the benefit of the people of Ireland.

The work of the Forum has now transitioned to discussing the strategic direction of the community pharmacy profession. This will prove invaluable in the context of future contractual reform. Of course, any publicly funded pharmacy service expansion should address unmet public healthcare needs, improve access to existing public health services, and provide better value for money.


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