Minister praises response to volunteer led medicines delivery service


Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann and Northern Ireland Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey have welcomed the ‘excellent response’ to a new volunteer-led scheme delivering medicines to patients.


The scheme is being coordinated by Community Development and Health Network to deliver medication during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Approaches to the delivery of medicines during the pandemic have varied across the UK in recent weeks.


In Scotland, the delivery of medicines to shielded patients has used volunteers but has been Health Board led. The English approach has been to fund an essential and advanced service.


This approach has come in for significant criticism. The safety of using volunteers to deliver medication has been questioned.


Amongst the confusion and in the midst of a fast-moving situation the RPS and the GPhC had to update their joint statement on the use of volunteers to deliver medicines during the pandemic following concerns being raised by healthcare lawyer Andrea James. Speaking after a PIP podcast she suggested that the initial statement could cause a false sense of security regarding the potential issues of vicarious liability with the English services.


Minister Swann said:


“It is vital that those who are unable to leave their home because of Covid-19 continue to get access to their medicines.  Many of us can rely on family members, friends, or local support for help.  However, there are people having to self-isolate who are experiencing difficulties and it is for those people that this service has been introduced.


“I am aware that community pharmacies have been working extremely hard to meet the increased demand for home deliveries of medicines within their communities.  I am greatly encouraged to report that over 170 pharmacies have signed up to the new scheme and 142 of them have been matched with a community or voluntary sector organisation.”


The Health and Social Care Board is continuing to work closely with the Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) to coordinate volunteer organisations who will provide vital support to community pharmacies.


CDHN Director Joanne Morgan said:


“CDHN have a long history of facilitating community pharmacists and local community organisations to work together to better understand and address health inequalities. We are very proud to witness that partnership ethos continued in this way. I am also particularly encouraged by the joint working between DoH and DfC to support delivery on the ground.”


Minister Hargey said:


“It is thanks to the work coordinated by Community Development Health Network and carried out by the volunteer network, including sporting organisations, that patients will continue to get their medicines.  During this outbreak, we have seen many excellent examples of volunteering in the battle against Covid-19. I believe this delivery scheme to be a great example of voluntary action which is designed to help the most vulnerable members of our community and I applaud the Community Development Health Network, the Health and Social Care Board and the many volunteers in their efforts to achieve this.”




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