Private pharmacies are to join the national health scheme in a welcome boost to government efforts to have the programme up and running in June.
The decision was taken by a majority of 165 to 139 on Wednesday night and followed protracted consultations with the state health organisation after private pharmacists sought assurances regarding the viability of their pharmacies once the new system is implemented
It will usher in changes both for patients and for the pharmacists themselves who are being given incentives to merge.
Changes for patients
- Over the counter pharmaceuticals will remain outside the system. This means patients will have to pay for them out of pocket
- There will be a prescription fee of €1. Patients who not want the generic pharmaceutical prescribed, can opt to buy a more expensive brand pharmaceutical and cover the difference in price
- If there is no generic the NHS will fully cover the brand pharmaceutical
- NHS participants will not need to pay anything for medicine administered while in hospital
- The NHS will fully cover innovative medicine
- The NHS will fully cover the medicine prescribed by a doctor, even if there is a generic
- If the doctor is not part of the NHS, patients will have to pay for the medicine
- In the event of a chronic illness, doctors can give a prescription valid for six months so as not to inconvenience the patient. However the patient can only collect a month’s supply at a time from the pharmacy.
- Pharmacists will have to brief NHS participants about their options so that they can choose the medicine fully paid for by the NHS or choose a more expensive one and cover the difference in price
- Pharmacists will be paid additionally for services over the weekend, on holidays and for the night shift. They will receive €70 for the night shift on week days, €100 for Saturdays and €200 for Sundays and holidays.
- Pharmacists will be offered incentives of €25,000 to share facilities
- Pharmacists will be offered incentives of €25,000 to set up operation in the mountains and in remote areas.
- Pharmacists will be paid by medicine sold. They will be paid by the state health organisation every 15 days in the first two months of the implementation of the NHS to ensure liquidity
- For prescriptions that do not concern the NHS, pharmacists will be able to charge patients up to €5
- Pharmacists will continue to serve non-NHS patients as they do now
- Guarantees were given in the event of losses incurred if pharmaceuticals expire
- A request from pharmacists that they be able to carry out vaccinations at private pharmacies is under consideration