NI Pharmacies May Dispense Across Border

The Irish Republic's Health Service Executive (HSE) has invited pharmacies in Northern Ireland to consider dispensing medicines to its own medical card patients in border counties.

The move is being planned from the beginning of next month, with an invitation issued through newspaper advertisements.

It comes as the HSE attempts to put in place arrangements to ensure thousands of patients are still able to have their prescriptions filled next month when hundreds of pharmacies withdraw from dispensing drugs under a host of State schemes.

Up to 900 pharmacies have already given the HSE notice of their intention to withdraw from providing these services from August 1st as a result of a Government decision to cut their fees.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said this will result in an average loss in income for pharmacists of 34% and the closure of some pharmacies with the possible loss of up to 5,000 jobs.

However, the HSE is putting in place alternative arrangements, effectively to 'face down' the pharmacists and to ensure everyone who requires medicines under the State drugs schemes can continue to access them, though it acknowledged some people may have to travel further for their medicines as a result of the dispute.

The cross-border initiative is one option being planned.


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