Patients enrolled in Ireland’s Community Drugs Schemes have been encountering problems when trying to obtain their prescriptions since August 1st, as many pharmacists have stopped dispensing medicines under the schemes.
The action by the pharmacists follows the decision by Mary Harney, the Minister for Health and Children, to cut payments to pharmacists under the Schemes by 34% as a result of the financial crisis. Under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, the Minster announced on 18th June that payments would be reduced by 55 million euros to 495 million euros. This is similar to the amount received in 2006.
It was expected that up to 1,100 community pharmacists would stop dispensing medicines under the schemes.
Liz Hoctor, president of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), said that the contingency plans put into place by the Health Service Executive (HSE) have been “totally inadequate”.
Meanwhile, Laverne McGuinness, the HSE’s national director of primary care, has accused the IPU of deliberately using inaccurate information to cause anxiety among patients, which “reflects very badly on the profession”.
Further reading - A detailed analysis of the Irish pharmaceutical market, including some background information on pharmacies, is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: Ireland (published June 2009)