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Community pharmacists are expressing their frustration at the length of time that it is taking the Department of Health to administer its £500 recognition payment to the sector.

The one-off payment was first announced by Health Minister Robin Swann back in January to recognise the work of health and social care staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly eleven months on, it is understood that community pharmacists and other independent healthcare staff, will not receive theirs before Christmas. 

Chair of Community Pharmacy NI, Peter Rice said:

“Following the recent media coverage on the issue community pharmacy teams are also increasingly frustrated with the delay in issuing the special recognition payment. Community pharmacy staff across Northern Ireland have given so much to support their patients at every stage of the pandemic, ensuring the people received their medicines and professional advice. They are exhausted and deserving of this payment as a small token of their work to date.

“The fact that staff in other health care sectors have already received their payments leaves our teams feeling disappointed and undervalued. I acknowledge that community pharmacy teams are not on the health service payroll and it is more difficult to process these payments. However, we are coming up to a year since the scheme was first announced and pharmacy staff are understandably frustrated at still not having haven’t received the payment.

“We need to remember that we are over 19 months on from the onset of the pandemic. Since March 2020, community pharmacists have faced relentless pressures with increased footfall, demand for services, and extended working hours on a daily basis.

“We need to see these payments made in full, to all eligible staff, with a short and definitive timeline set out and honoured by the Health Service.”

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