MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has called on the Executive to bring forward a modernised pharmacy contract to improve patient experience, invest in new technology and streamline connections between community pharmacies and GP Surgeries.
Following a visit with pharmacy staff and management at Boots Banbridge the Ulster Unionist MLA said that a new electronic system would help both GPs and pharmacists cope with the increased demands of the coming winter pressures.
Mrs Dobson, UUP Health spokesperson, said: “We all know that our health service is undergoing serious pressures and the longer patients are made to wait the greater their risk of coming to harm.
“As people are made to wait longer for an appointment pressure has been continually growing on our pharmacists. That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to visit the team at Boots Banbridge to see the fantastic operation which community pharmacies do every single day.
“I was particularly keen to view their preparations for the increased winter pressures and also the military precision with which medications are sorted to assist people to live independently in their homes for longer.
“I commend all the staff involved in preparing and sorting the medications for local nursing and residential homes because this work helps people to understand their medications and stay healthier longer.
“Over the summer months I have been holding a series of meetings with health professionals from Doctors and Nurses, Health Managers, Charities and members of regional representative bodies including the Royal College of GPs, the BMA and the Royal College of paediatrics and child health.
“It is abundantly clear that change must happen in so many areas across our health service, from workforce planning to improving the patients experience both at home and in hospital.
“I will be seeking sensible solutions from the Executive to a range of issues being experienced by patients.
“One prime example is that the current minor ailments scheme which, without the need for a doctors appointment, allows local pharmacies to prescribe medicine to treat common illnesses such as coughs and colds, is still processed on paper and not electronically.
“Other regions across the UK have pharmacy dispensing systems in place which are far more advanced - there is no reason why we cannot put in place a new and improved system here.”