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Marking World Pharmacist Day in September, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) commended the role the profession plays in supporting the public. This year, Irish pharmacies introduced the Safe Pharmacy initiative to offer support to victims of domestic abuse. 

Paying tribute to all those who work in Ireland’s community pharmacies, Mr Dermot Twomey, President of the IPU, said: “Pharmacists continue to deliver an exceptional standard of care and have demonstrated throughout the pandemic their crucial role in community-based healthcare.” 

Safe Pharmacy is a new programme that aims to provide any person who is experiencing domestic abuse with a safe and secure location to seek support. Launched in July, the initiative now has over 1,000 participating pharmacies. The designated Safe Pharmacies have trained staff who provide access to a phone in a private consultation room and contact details for local support services. 

Mr Twomey said: “Pharmacies have always been an important part of their community, and now with Safe Pharmacy, they can play a crucial role in supporting the safety and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable in our society. We want anyone experiencing a domestic violence or abuse situation to know that they will be greeted with care and compassion in each Safe Pharmacy, where help will be provided.” 

Meanwhile, Mr Twomey warned that a shortage of qualified pharmacists in Ireland is creating challenges and making future viability precarious. “The shortage of qualified pharmacists in Ireland has been growing each year and is now having a direct impact,” he said. “This is perpetuated by two solvable problems. First, we are simply not educating enough pharmacists here in Ireland. Then secondly, we make it needlessly complicated and time-consuming to recruit pharmacists who qualify outside of the EU. 

“Pharmacists are already under immense pressure, and this is compounded by the fact that too much time is spent on administrative tasks and endless red tape. If we can’t increase the supply of qualified pharmacists, the sector will be unable to keep up with demand. All the potential to expand the services will be lost”.