Maintaining local pharmacies is a major factor in securing the future of many rural communities, according to Lisburn councillor Jenny Palmer.
Heavily involved in campaigns to preserve rural services, Mrs Palmer called on the community to support what she called Lagan Valley’s much-needed network of local pharmacies.
“I wholeheartedly commend the work being carried out at primary care level,” she said, “and the need to use medicine effectively and help people to remain at home and have greater confidence. This work stresses directly the vital services provided by local pharmacies, for example, personal dispensing trays.
“I want the health minister to give an assurance that pharmacists already in position will be taken into consideration regarding the services which are being talked about as being transferred to third-party suppliers, community services and suchlike.
“We have a very strong, well-educated, well-trained pharmacy team already in place that can help out in any future development.”
The Lagan Valley UUP Assembly candidate said proposed cuts to pharmacy services had the potential to be disastrous for provision of frontline healthcare across the Lagan Valley area.
“Lagan Valley has a dispersed population,” she said, “and, therefore it’s inevitable that many of the local village pharmacies will have a lower catchment per head than those in heavily populated areas.
“However, sometimes those working for government departments need to look at something other than just numbers on a sheet.
“Local pharmacies are a crucial factor in the social fabric of rural communities.
“While I am fully aware that the Health Department has not got an infinite budget, I feel that rather than implementing a blanket cut in the resources offered to community pharmacies in Northern Ireland, the department should instead be working with the industry to try to identify any areas in which genuine efficiency savings can be made.”