The public petition calling on the Department of Health to save the local community pharmacy network here has now reached a staggering 75,000 signatures.
The petition which is displayed in every community pharmacy in Northern Ireland, has been signed by over 70,500 patients and customers in person with 4,500 adding their support online.
The petition was launched in reaction to the crisis in community pharmacy in Northern Ireland which is under sustained attack due to Government cuts and consistent underfunding.
Currently there is a deficit of at least £20m in funding provided to community pharmacy meaning that community pharmacists are dispensing many medicines at a loss, putting many under unacceptable financial pressures. Many have said that the current situation is putting patient safety at risk as workforce issues have increased the chances of mistakes being made.
Patients who have signed the petition are expressing worry and fear that they may not be able to get the medicines they need to manage their conditions and that the closure of their local pharmacy could have severe consequences for public health.
The petition is expected to reach over 100,000 as the groundswell of support grows and the call for action from the Department of Health sounds louder.
Gerard Greene, Chief Executive, Community Pharmacy NI said:
“There has been a huge reaction to this petition which was only launched last month. People have been coming out in their tens of thousands to show their support.”
“There is unmistakable evidence of just how reliant many are on their local chemist. We have been inundated with calls about the level of fear of losing such as vital service by potential pharmacy closures.”
“There is a real threat that the continued under funding by the Department of Health will result in pharmacies closing. Patients and patient groups have told us that they are extremely worried about this situation and are very concerned that some pharmacists are being forced to make tough decisions and how that might impact on their care.”
“The frontline services that community pharmacists provide are under attack and the prolonged government underfunding is putting huge financial strain on many, so much so that it is impacting on the health and well-being of community pharmacists across Northern Ireland. We are now in a dire situation and one which we are not prepared to sit back and accept.”
“Our members have a responsibility to ensure that we help patients stay well and prevent illness wherever possible, but there is an unseen side to the profession that must be supported before there is any further impact.”
“Due to this current situation we have no option but to speak out, and we must stand up and fight for our patients and demand that action be taken by the Department of Health to protect the vital patient services provided in community pharmacies.”
“We are asking that as many people as possible sign the petition at their local pharmacy or go online to Change.org and show their support https://www.change.org/p/department-of-health-northern-ireland-save-the-northern-ireland-community-pharmacy-network “