NI pharmacies hit lateral flow test milestone

Northern Ireland’s community pharmacies have this week reached the milestone of supplying over 820,000 lateral flow testing kits. Coming in kits of seven, it is estimated that a total of 5.7 million tests have been distributed via the sector.

Community Pharmacy NI has welcomed the figures, highlighting that having the kits available from an accessible location has been essential to breaking the chain of transmission within our communities.

Lateral flow tests can be collected from 580 locations across Northern Ireland, including 500 community pharmacies.

Peter Rice, Chair of Community Pharmacy NI said:

“Reaching this significant milestone is a testament to the entire community pharmacy network who have worked tirelessly to distribute lateral flow tests to patients. Facing increased demands from patients as well as workforce pressures associated with the transmission of the Omicron variant, our community pharmacy teams have remained steadfast in their efforts to distribute Lateral Flow Tests among communities. It has been a huge logistical undertaking to get to this point and community pharmacy has played an integral part.

“Over the festive period, as transmission of the Omicron variant rose sharply and demand for Lateral Flow Tests increased as a consequence, in many instances community pharmacy was the only collection point available to members of the public. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown community pharmacy’s value as a key component in our health system, ensuring accessible healthcare and solidifying the link between pharmacies and their communities. I would encourage the Department of Health to consider this milestone when planning for healthcare transformation. Access to local, community-facing primary care is vital and I hope we can consolidate on this.”

Lesa McLoughlin, community pharmacist at Dundela Pharmacy, Belfast said:

“Working in a community pharmacy throughout the pandemic, I have seen first-hand the role my colleagues have been playing each day to support patients. We have continually stepped beyond our everyday role to take on additional services to support those living in the community. The rollout of Lateral Flow testing kits is an essential part of this as patients have come to rely on community pharmacy as part of their test, trace, and isolate routine.”

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