Liz Hoctor, President of the Irish Pharmacy Union IPU has accused the HSE of failing to meet its legal responsibility to patients, particularly in places like Donegal.
“The Minister assured the Dail that there would be a workable contingency plan which would ensure that all patients have access to the medicine they need including those who cannot afford them.
“It is clear that the HSE has failed in this regard and it is now incumbent on them to admit that there are areas of this country without adequate pharmacy cover. The HSE and the Minister should recognise this dangerous situation immediately as ultimately responsibility for patients and their care rests with the Minister,” she claimed.
The IPU believes that under the HSE contingency plan pharmacy cover in areas such as Waterford, Wexford, Cavan, Donegal, Kerry, Connemara and Mayo will be totally insufficient to meet patient demand and that this could lead to dangerous situations.
Liz Hoctor pointed out that the IPU had raised many of their concerns with the HSE but had not received any response.
“The HSE says it is setting up a dozen dispensaries around the country. Will they all be open tomorrow?
Will there be sufficient staff?
Will they have a full range of medicines?
What are their opening hours?
What after hours services will be provided?
Will they be able to deliver medicines to patients/Collect medicines from surgeries?
Will their help line be open on a twenty four hour basis?
Do they have the necessary equipment such as computer systems, refrigeration facilities, security systems?
Have they been licensed?
Will their staff have the knowledge and experience to spot mistakes in prescriptions?
Will they provide monitored dosage systems to patients?
These are some of the questions we raised with the HSE on behalf of our patients but as usual we received no response.’
She said she deeply regretted any worry or distress caused to patients who will be adversely affected by the current situation. She knew the decision by pharmacists to withdraw from these schemes was taken with the utmost reluctance.