Speeches

Address by Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, at the official opening of the extension to the Irish Pharmaceutical Union´s premises at Butterfield House

Introduction

As Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, and also as a past President of the Irish Pharmaceutical Union, it gives me great pleasure to be present this afternoon. I would like to take this opportunity to thank your President, Richard Collis, and the Executive Committee for inviting me to officially open this extension to the IPU’s premises. The new extension in the rebuilt Coach House is both a pleasure to view and admirably adapted to the purposes of the Union.

The Development of Pharmacy

I don´t wish to keep you too long and will keep my comments brief. As a past President of the Union I am very aware of the important role which the IPU plays in representing the views of pharmacists, championing the cause of the profession and raising its profile in the Irish healthcare field.

Since its formation in 1973, from the old Irish Drug Association, the Union has always been looking to broaden its appeal to the pharmacy profession. That it now has some 1,500 members, both owner and employee pharmacists, is a testament to its wish to become ever more representative of pharmacists. I know that the purchase of Butterfield House in 1988 was part of that enlightened outlook, and I now see the rebuilding of the Coach House, to provide much needed additional space, as a sign of the Union’s commitment to continue expanding the services it offers its membership.

I feel I should also mention that the Union, in its role of representing the interests of its members, is very active in raising issues, and where required conducting negotiations on their behalf, with the Department of Health and Children. For example, I would congratulate the IPU on their input into the work of the Pharmacy Review Group. Without discussing the Groups recommendations, in advance of the Report’s publication, which it is hoped will be shortly; I can say that the IPU played an important role in highlighting, and examining, the issues effecting the development of the community pharmacy sector in Ireland.

Because of the complexity of modern medicines and the challenges it presents, patient care is becoming more of a shared care between the various health professions. This is nowhere more evident than in the area of pharmacy, and in particular, community pharmacy. Community pharmacists are no longer only known for their role as the dispensers of medicines. As highly trained health care professionals, pharmacists are involved in decision making and in advising on medicines, their indications, contra-indications and so on.

We should however, not see pharmacy in isolation. As our population ages, no doubt the demand for healthcare, and in particular pharmaceuticals will continue to grow. It is widely recognised that the best way to prevent suffering, not to mention increased costs, in later life, is to take all possible steps to prevent premature illness from developing in the first place. As the Primary Care Strategy, a key part of the overall Health Strategy, outlined, primary care should be the first port of call for the majority of people who use health services. It can meet 90-95% of all health needs. The Strategy seeks to shift the emphasis from our current over-reliance on hospitals, to wider networks of health and social care professionals, including community pharmacists. As I stated earlier the IPU has been to the fore in developments in this area in the past and I hope this progressive attitude continues into the future.

Conclusion

Finally, I promised not to speak for too long and so without further delay, I would like to formally open your new extension.