The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has congratulated the newly-appointed Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on his appointment. However, while welcoming him into the role, the IPU has warned that Covid-19 is just one of many significant challenges he faces.

Mr Darragh O’Loughlin, Secretary General of the IPU, said: “Minister Donnelly comes into the portfolio with a strong reputation and background knowledge, having been his party’s health spokesperson. On behalf of pharmacists across Ireland, I congratulate him on his appointment — we look forward to working with him to improve our healthcare system.

“Minister Donnelly takes the helm at a very challenging time for health services. With increasing demand due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the day-to-day health crises, the healthcare system is under unprecedented pressure. However, there are also undoubted opportunities for reform and improvement in how healthcare is delivered, in particular through the implementation of Sláintecare.

This will require resourcing community-based healthcare, including pharmacists, to provide greater levels of patient support, monitoring and treatment. The Programme for Government commits to talks to expand the role of pharmacies

“This will require resourcing community-based healthcare, including pharmacists, to provide greater levels of patient support, monitoring and treatment. The Programme for Government commits to talks to expand the role of pharmacies. We are ready to start these talks today and pharmacists are waiting and wanting to do more for their patients. Unlike other health professions, pharmacies are still suffering from severe cuts in their incomes under the now-repealed FEMPI legislation, which is having a direct impact on the sustainability of existing services. This needs to be addressed urgently.  

“We hope these promised talks will be progressed quickly so that Irish patients and communities can quickly benefit from enhanced and additional services.

“We would also like to thank Minister Simon Harris for his engagements with us during his tenure as Minister for Health. During the pandemic, Minister Harris introduced changes which were good for Irish patients, including the electronic transfer of prescriptions from prescribers to the pharmacy and increasing the maximum period of validity of a prescription from six months to nine months. We wish him well in his new portfolio.”