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Q&A


In tHIS, tHE SEConD of oUR nEW SERIES ‘tEn QUEStIonS’, JoE BRogAn, PHARMACY & MEDICInES MAnAgEMEnt, HEAltH & SoCIAl CARE BoARD, IS In tHE Hot SEAt AS tHE UCA’S PHARMACISt REPRESEntAtIon gRoUP PUt tHEIR...


tEn QUEStIonS


WItH tHE lAUnCH of tHE HEAltH MInIStER'S VISIon 'HEAltH & WEllBEIng 2026, DElIVERIng togEtHER'. WHAt oPPoRtUnItIES Do YoU SEE In tHIS foR CoMMUnItY PHARMACIStS?


‘Delivering together’ is a fairly succinct policy document and as a profession that cares about the health of the population and how the health service should be shaped to support better health and well-being, we should all read and embrace it. It is notable that Minister’s opening statement encapsulates the entire direction of travel. She says:


‘the World Health organisation defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. that is the health outcome I want to deliver for all our people.’


I read this as calibrating the health service not as a ‘sickness’ service but as a ‘wellness’ service. I also read into this statement equity, fairness and seeking to reduce inequalities. later in the report there are a number of stark examples of the impact that health inequality is having:


for example, men in the least deprived areas live seven and a half years longer than men in the most deprived areas.


for women, the difference is over four years. In the most deprived areas, 30 per cent of people report a mental health problem - double the rate in least deprived areas.


Health inequality such as this is clearly unacceptable. the impact that health inequalities have on the health system as a whole is further described in the Bengoa Report:


50 - PHARMACY In foCUS


by 2026 just to maintain existing levels of service. this is clearly unsustainable.


WHAt HAS BEEn YoUR PRoUDESt MoMEnt In YoUR CAREER So fAR?


Every day I am proud to work for better health and well being for the population that I serve. Every day I am proud to be working with fantastic clinicians and support staff who are equally committed to making things better for patients. Every day I am proud to be a pharmacist and being able to use my skills to help people live healthier and longer lives.


We often hear it said amongst pharmacists (and probably other professions) that those in the boardrooms don't have an appreciation for what actually takes place on the ground. Do you think this is a fair and appropriate description of what goes in pharmacy in northern Ireland?


• there are nine admissions to hospital for every 20 people in the most deprived areas compared to six admissions for every 20 people in the least deprived areas; • Emergency admissions to hospital are 74 per cent higher in most deprived communities than in the least deprived; • Elective admissions to hospital are 25 per cent higher in most deprived communities than least deprived; • Hospital day cases are 21 per cent higher in most deprived communities than least deprived.


the report goes on to quote from the Marmot review, which highlighted the need for a cross governmental action to address health inequalities, and quotes research that highlights what impacts on health outcomes:


• twenty per cent is related to clinical care; • ten per cent is related to physical environment (air and water quality, built environment, etc.); • forty per cent is related to socio- economic factors (education, employment, social support, community safety); • thirty per cent is related to behaviours


Minister recognises that there is a clear need for change for the health system. ‘Delivering together’ reiterates the growing demographic demand on the current system and the impact that this will have.


the Bengoa Report assesses the impact of the future demand and without change it estimates that spending in health will have to double


I don’t spend much time in boardrooms so I wouldn’t want to speak for people with much more auspicious titles! I spend most of my time developing, commissioning and reviewing services.


I can’t be in every pharmacy, hospital, care home or community group but I am active in getting out on the ground to see services and speak to service users and providers to get a sense as to what is happening.


I also make sure that my staff engage on a daily basis with service providers. As with any service, there are a range of data sets that I review on an ongoing basis. Invariably I get involved with service providers and service users when things go wrong.


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