EAST Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden has welcomed a funding boost to community pharmacies which will help them continue their vital primary care role.
The independent MLA began lobbying the minister of health for more support prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, but stressed the importance of community pharmacies was now greater than ever.
Pharmacies were able to shoulder some of the load in providing medical advice and treatment, freeing up GPs and hospitals, Ms Sugden said.
The minister for health yesterday (June 30) announced an additional £13.25m for community pharmacies.
“They are often overlooked in terms of the service they provide, but if they are financially supported they are able to treat people quickly and cheaply, taking a huge financial burden off the whole system,” she said.
“People are able to get immediate relief for a range of problems and pharmacists can provide people with free prescriptions if they need it.
“It really is an investment to save.”
As well as minor ailments, people could also get help with things like smoking cessation, Ms Sugden said.
“I have been lobbying the minister for some time on this issue. Now, due to COVID-19 pharmacies have been swamped. I welcome his recognition of the important role of pharmacies and that they need help to continue this.”
The chief executive of Community Pharmacy NI, Gerard Greene, said the funding was “hugely positive”.
“It will enable community pharmacy to address immediate pressures and help with the challenges of the post-Covid health service, assisting community pharmacy to provide even more services to ensure our communities are served and supported and that public health is protected,” he said.