Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said the Health Minister must heed the warning and take immediate action to avoid industrial action by community pharmacists, after they voted to press ahead with it as a last resort.
The South Belfast MLA stated: “I have been standing with community pharmacists warning about the growing crisis for four years, because they provide an essential service to over 100,000 people every single day.
“They are more than just medical professionals. For many people, they are an integral part of the community, working long hours to provide expert guidance as the true frontline for the health service in every locality.
“Only yesterday, I raised again in the Assembly during the debate on the Supplementary Estimates the urgent need to address the huge pressure on community pharmacies, given so many pharmacists are now going practice-based.
“Astonishingly, the Estimates in fact removed £8 million from pharmaceutical services, which just shows the warnings have not been heeded. What is needed is £20 million – a tiny share of the overall health budget – which would provide real value not just because it would secure the future of frontline medical professionals, but because it would restore a central pillar of every community in Northern Ireland.
“The Minister must heed the warning that this is small money for a big difference.”