Part of The Pharmacist’s series of case studies on how stock shortages are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a Northern Irish owner explains the impact on his pharmacy

Joe McAleer, owner, Belcoo Pharmacy, Northern Ireland

Like everyone in community pharmacy across Northern Ireland, shortages are a problem for us.

‘We may not get reimbursed the correct price and therefore dispense at a loss.

‘This has caused delays in patients receiving medication and multiple journeys to fulfil requests with the resultant compliance and health implications.

‘The problem is that it’s difficult to invest in staff to source these short medicines, which often falls to colleagues who are already very busy.

‘In an ideal world, we would like to order from one manufacturer to provide continuity of brand, which I have no doubt would be of benefit to our patients. However, we have had to source from a variety of suppliers.

‘I work between 70 and 80 hours a week myself, which is a mix between management and routine tasks.

‘Many of my sector colleagues are also in the same situation and it can’t continue long term.’