Reilly takes on the pharmacists
Late on the afternoon the day the long awaited bank stress tests were published (31 March), Minister Reilly took on his first public battle announcing further cuts to fees paid to pharmacists. Under the 2009 Financial Emergency Measures Act, the minister has the right to do this – and previous cuts under Mary Harney results in the pharmacy strike in summer 2009. So these cuts are on top of cuts ready made and seem quite a bold, political move just three weeks into office.According to the Dept of HEalth press release , these measures will save is €36m annually and €24 m in 2011 through cuts to fees paid to pharmacists:
- from 10 to 8% for what is paid to pharmacists for dispensing drugs under GMS & community drugs schemes
- from 50% to 20% in the mark-up of non-drug items, controlled drugs and fridge items under the DPS and the LTI Scheme
- A 50% reduction in the Patient Care Fee under the High-Tech Medicines Scheme for months when medicine is not dispensed (fee to be reduced from €60.52 to €30.26).
Given that in 2010 pharmacy fees for these areas totaled €467 million, this is 7.7% cut. Pharmacists responded saying the “cuts were harsh and impose hugely disproportionate pain on community pharmacists”. I suspect pharmacists will not take it quietly and we will hear more about this shortly.