Alliance Assembly member Eileen Bell has said proposals to deregulate the pharmacy market in Northern Ireland will destroy community pharmacies.
The North Down MLA said Alliance had written to the Office of Fair Trading to oppose recommendations to relax controls of entries to the market for pharmacies.
Ms Bell said: “Community pharmacies are a vital part of delivering effective healthcare to the most vulnerable members of society and particularly the disabled and elderly. Deregulation would result in fewer rural pharmacies and fewer in areas of social deprivation, and it is likely that clusters would form near surgeries and shopping centres.”
“Over 120,000 people in Northern Ireland use pharmacies every day, and most can reach one within a matter of minutes. Deregulation would change all that, and in the end, it is patients who are the losers and supermarkets the only winners.”
“If these proposals get backing, it will have a profoundly negative effect on Northern Ireland’s pharmacies, creating instability and reducing access to all. As the Government sets prescription costs, it doesn’t even mean prices will go down.”
“However, with cross-party support, these plans can be voted down in the Assembly. They are simply not right for Northern Ireland.”