Community pharmacy reaches milestone of over 820,000 lateral flow test kits distributed across Northern Ireland

The sector is estimated to have provided up to 5.7 million individual tests in total

Community pharmacies in Northern Ireland have this week reached the milestone of supplying over 820,000 lateral flow test kits. Coming in kits of seven, an estimated total of 5.7 million tests have been distributed through the sector.

Community Pharmacy NI welcomed the numbers, noting that having the kits available from an accessible location has been critical in breaking the chain of transmission within our communities.

Lateral flow tests can be collected from 580 sites across Northern Ireland, including 500 community pharmacies.

Peter Rice, president of Community Pharmacy NI, said:

“Achieving this milestone is a testament to the entire community pharmacy network that has worked tirelessly to distribute lateral flow testing to patients. In the face of increasing patient demands as well as workforce pressures associated with the transmission of the Omicron variant, our community pharmacy teams have remained steadfast in their efforts to distribute lateral flow tests among communities. It has been a huge logistical undertaking to get to this point and the community pharmacy has played a vital role.

“During the holiday season, when the transmission of the Omicron variant increased sharply and the demand for lateral flow tests increased accordingly, in many cases the community pharmacy was the only collection point accessible to members of the audience. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the value of community pharmacy as a key part of our healthcare system, ensuring accessible healthcare and strengthening the connection between pharmacies and their communities. I encourage the Department of Health to consider this step when planning for healthcare transformation. Access to local and community primary care is vital and I hope we can consolidate this.

Lesa McLoughlin, community pharmacist at Dundela Pharmacy, Belfast said:

“Working in a community pharmacy throughout the pandemic, I have seen the role my colleagues play every day in supporting patients. We have continuously gone beyond our day-to-day role to support additional services to support people living in the community. The roll-out of lateral flow test kits is a critical part of this, as patients have come to rely on community pharmacy as part of their test, trace and isolate routine.

You can pick up a free lateral flow test kit from community pharmacies: https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/

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