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NI pharmacies get loans to stay open

9th December 2011

Some pharmacists in Northern Ireland are having to take extensive steps to remain in business.

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It has been reported that some are taking out bank loans or cashing in pensions to stay open after the sector was hit by £38m worth of cuts to the community pharmacy budget, imposed in April.

That decision is the subject of a judicial review, with a decision next week. The ruling will also determine if they will deliver fair and reasonable funding for pharmacists.

Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI), which represents over 500 pharmacies in Northern Ireland, said the cuts of 30% was too much too soon.

Pharmacist Lindsay Greer, who runs two pharmacies in the Ballymena area, said he had sought emergency funding to keep open and pay the wages of two staff.

He added: “The impact could eventually mean closing on Saturdays or just closing early.”

CPNI point to cuts in dispensing fees, changes to payments for drugs and grants to pay for training are also affected.

Chief executive Gerard Greene said: “Since the budget cut, each month the effects have just ratcheted up significantly. So within the last few weeks, pharmacists are having to revert to banks for emergency funding just to keep afloat. We are also hearing that some of our members are cashing in their pensions early.”

The Department of Health said there has been no change in the amount of recurrent funding that is available to local pharmacies and also believes that the total amount for dispensing prescription fees remains unchanged, though the CPNI dispute this.

 

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