Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has cautioned that the burden already apparent on community pharmacists at the start of the coronavirus outbreak only reinforces the need for a proper package to secure their future.
The South Belfast MLA said: “I have been alarmed by some of the information I have received from community pharmacists who are going above and beyond their already heavy workload to meet the demands of their treasured customers during this time of crisis.
“In the first instance, I must ask the public to restrict their visits to community pharmacists only for essential items. I am troubled to hear of stock-piling of medicines and there must be consideration at this time that any medicine could be life-saving for someone else.
“I also know that community pharmacists have come under a further burden of having to make modifications to the layout of their premises, to protect their staff and customers, at their own cost; or bringing in more staff to cope with the pressures with no indication from the Department of Health that they are going to receive any additional funding to meet this extra cost.
“I am also urgently seeking assurances about the availability of protective equipment for community pharmacists, who are currently very much in the front line. This must be treated as a matter of urgency.
“The community pharmacy sector has been raising very legitimate concerns with the Department of Health for years now about workforce, workload and workplace, and unfortunately, their gravest fears are now coming true. This demonstrates it is time for action, no more fancy words.”