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Health Minister Robin Swann has announced his support for a community pharmacy commissioning plan for 2021-22.

The Department of Health, working closely with the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Community Pharmacy NI, the representative body for community pharmacy, have reached agreement on a commissioning plan for community pharmacy services for the year ahead.

Following a meeting today with the HSCB and Community Pharmacy NI, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Community pharmacies have been playing a pivotal role in delivering health services to communities in Northern Ireland during the pandemic and it is clear that there is a very high level of public confidence in the professionalism and dedication shown by community pharmacies during what has been an extremely challenging year.

“I am very pleased to give my support to a community pharmacy commissioning plan for 2021-22, which builds on the agreement reached on last year and provides a coherent structure for the provision of community pharmacy services over the next twelve months.”

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland said: “Community pharmacy teams across Northern Ireland have been invaluable in supporting patients and the health service throughout COVID. This year’s Commissioning Plan builds further on the services provided last year and it delivers further enhancements that will benefit and support patients over the coming twelve months. Community pharmacy will play a central role in the rebuilding of the health service as we start to emerge from COVID and it is significant to have Ministerial, Health Service and community pharmacy support for this as well. This is another positive day for patients and the services they will receive from their local community pharmacy.”

Closely aligned with the health needs of local communities and the HSC, the focus in this year’s commissioning plan will be on provision of accessible services for the safe supply and use of medicines, activities to promote good physical and mental health, vaccination services, first point of contact for advice and treatment of common illnesses and support for patients in care homes and those receiving end of life care.

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Department of Health said: “Community pharmacies are the most accessible part of our health and social care service. This year’s agreement recognises the valued contribution that pharmacists and pharmacy staff in local communities have made and continue to make to the Covid pandemic response and recovery. Its delivery will help ensure that the public will be able to avail of high quality, professional advice and services from pharmacies across Northern Ireland.”

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at the Health and Social Care Board said: “Our population has suffered substantially from the COVID pandemic. We also know that there were already significant health challenges facing society. The pandemic has exacerbated this need. During the emergency response to the pandemic, community

pharmacy services were hugely important and through the 21/22 commissioning plan we have agreed, we wish to expand and develop services that not only respond to the health needs of our community but also develop interventions which improve health and wellbeing using the excellent resource that we have in our pharmacies.”

Minister Swann concluded: “In looking to the future, it is important that we continue to work together to consolidate and build on the significant successes we have had and continue to have.”

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