The pharmacist advised her to try another pharmacy which might have it in stock or she was offered a home delivery service — however, there was no timeframe given as to when this delivery would take place. The woman left saying she was “anxious” about her health as she needed the medication with expediency, and she also left without prescriptions filled for her elderly neighbour and for a teenager.
Staff who did their utmost to try to assist patients were heard asking patients how “urgent” the need for a prescription was and told many who visited during the hour to come back as their tablets were not in stock, which resulted in patients commenting that the situation was “despicable”, and “scandalous” and they were “livid”.
An hour later, there were 10 people in the pharmacy, including one woman who was seated there before 11am, and was observed with her head in her hands as she patiently waited for her medication.
The HSE responded to a query submitted by the Mayo Advertiser about the inadequate stocks at the community pharmacy by stating: “The temporary dispensing facilities have been busy and start-up issues arising are being dealt with swiftly as they arise. In such a short space of time these temporary facilities could not replace the service of local pharmacies that have withdrawn service. They are primarily designed to meet urgent needs and to ensure that no patient in urgent need of medicine is left without.” The HSE also said that there are dispensing and participating pharmacies operating in the county who have a contract under the State Drug Scheme, a list of which is available from their website — this list is in fact inaccurate as many listed have no contract with the HSE after they tendered their resignation.
The HSE also stated that “contingency arrangements involve making transport available for patients who cannot get to either their nearest participating pharmacy or to a HSE dispensing site. By contacting the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850 members of the public can be directed to their nearest participating pharmacy and where essential can have transport arranged for them.”
Pharmacies shut up shop
Many pharmacies closed their doors this week after the HSE refused to enter into negotiations.
Irish Pharmaceutical Union member, Achill based pharmacist Noel Stenson explained that, while this is an inconvenience to patients, if the pharmacy has no contract it may not remain open and that this protest could get “very messy in the second week”.
Mr Stenson said that pharmacists are “desperate to relieve this problem” by entering into negotiations and described the contingency plan as a “shambles” as 130,000 patients in Mayo are now being taken care of in two centres.
Nationwide the HSE have issued pharmacies who hold HSE Community Pharmacy Contractor Agreements with letters threatening legal action if these pharmacies refuse to provide services to patients and clients.