The Irish Medical Association (IMA) has called for urgent action to address the growing demand for pharmacists in the Republic of Ireland, particularly in rural areas.
The IMA said the demand for a pharmacists role is increasing rapidly as the region becomes more urbanised.
The Irish Pharmacists Association (IPA) said the growing number of pharmacists has resulted in a growing number who do not have the training, knowledge or experience required to effectively manage the pharmacy in rural Ireland.
“While the IMA recognises the growing need for pharmacistry professionals, the availability of pharmacy jobs has not kept pace with the demand,” said the IPA, which represents some 400 pharmacists across Ireland.
The IPA is also calling for a national pharmacists training programme.
“As the population of rural Ireland grows, so too will the demand to be a pharmacist.
The IPA has been a vocal advocate for this and is keen to see the introduction of a national training programme that will give pharmacists an essential role in ensuring the safety and health of our communities,” said Ian McColl, IPA director of services.
The Ima said it has also recommended a national recruitment strategy for pharmacist positions, to ensure that a pharmacy is being properly staffed and staffed well.
However, the IPA said there are still many pharmacists who do do not want to work in rural and remote areas.
“The IPA has also urged that there be a nationwide recruitment strategy that would give pharmacist roles to those who want to do so, while ensuring that the jobs are well-resourced, trained and equipped,” McColl said.
The IPA also wants pharmacists to be given more autonomy, so that they are more flexible in the areas where they work.
“It is essential that pharmacists have the freedom to decide how and when they work, with the opportunity to develop their own skills and make more informed decisions,” McCull said.
“Pharmaceutical pharmacists should be able to work from home, whether they are in a primary care setting or a specialist practice setting, without fear of harassment and discrimination,” he said.
In its submission to the Irish Parliament, the IPA said pharmacists need to be able “to make a difference in the lives of their communities”.
“The pharmacists we have met in rural communities have been so much more than just a role model, they have helped to shape the communities they are a part of and have been integral to their communities for many years,” said McColl.
“As pharmacists they have a vital role to play in ensuring that all the people who need to access their services are treated fairly and in a way that they deserve,” he added.