Pharmacists to be notified of possible legal action

18th April 2008

In the interest of patient safety, the HSE has today, Friday, April 18th, begun writing to a number of pharmacists informing them of the HSE's intention to issue legal proceedings (in the form of an injunction) if the pharmacists do not provide assurance that they will fulfil their contractual obligations in relation to the medical card and community drugs schemes.

Each contractor (pharmacist) is required to provide the HSE with three months notice if they wish to terminate their contract. The purpose of this contractual provision is to ensure a reasonable timeframe to allow for alternative and appropriate services to be put in place in a safe manner.

Speaking today, Pat O Dowd, Assistant National Director, HSE, said: "We have previously contacted every pharmacist seeking assurance that they will act in a professional manner and adhere to their contractual obligations, but we have not received an adequate response to date."

In the absence of the necessary assurance from pharmacists, the HSE will take whatever measures it considers necessary in order to ensure that patient safety is not compromised.

The HSE has a clear obligation in relation to the many services it provides and must act appropriately to ensure that no individual or group places their own gain above the duty of care to patients.

The HSE has also today confirmed that it is continuing to explore alternative arrangements for the provision of services to patients if the pharmacists proceed with their threatened withdrawal of services on May 1st.

Note to Editor:

Please find attached below sample copies of the letters being issued. Sample A refers to those pharmacists who have advised the HSE that they intend to cease providing services under their contract from May 1st. Sample B refers to those pharmacists who have informed the HSE that they may cease providing services under their contract from May 1st.

You can get more background information on the HSE's Pharmacy Reforms here

For further information contact:

Alex Connolly

National Press & Media Relations


01 6352840

087 6184450


Last updated on: 18 / 04 / 2008