I am very pleased to be here with you today to recognise the work being done by your organisation and its importance to pharmaceutical healthcare in Ireland. As hospital-based pharmacists, you play a vital role on a daily basis in leading the team that ensures the right medication gets to the right patient at the right time.

As members of the Irish Medication Safety Network you take a wider view and pool your collective learning to ensure safety across the sector. Not only that, you look to developments in pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical safety internationally and ensure that Ireland is well positioned to serve its healthcare staff and patients.

It’s very fitting that this conference is being held in Cork for what I understand is the first time. Cork is home to 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world and has a decades long history of producing some of the most widely used medication in the world. These medications are manufactured to a very high standard in what is a highly regulated environment.
As Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and as a Corkman I am very proud of the quality of the work done in our city to produce such life enhancing medication.

But it is of course essential that the medication is used in the best way possible to benefit patients. The safety and regulation continues right up to the point when the patient receives the medication and beyond. I know there is a broad team of healthcare professionals who ensure that this happens and as hospital based pharmacists you play a particularly key role. Your training, your experience and your expertise are all essential to patient care. But it is the power of your collective knowledge, and your willingness to share that knowledge which is what makes your organisation so effective. The Irish Medication Safety Network has developed numerous national guidelines on the management of high-risk medications and medication practices. I know you also publish medication safety alerts and briefings.

These are essential services to the healthcare community and you do this as an independent, voluntary organisation – a network of committed professionals getting together to advance your discipline, promote best practice, serve the wider healthcare community.

Promoting the optimal use of medicines within our health systems is an essential aspect of your work. The IMSN is devoted to promoting patient safety and highlights the importance of medication safety for its impact on patient health. But its impact as a cost to the healthcare system cannot be overstated. Globally, the cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at $42 billion USD annually. This is funding that could be put to more beneficial use.

Medication Errors can occur at all stages of the medication use process and the work of this organisation is crucial to raising awareness of such errors and enabling us to learn from, and prevent, such errors occurring in the future.

In 2017, the third World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Patient Safety Challenge report, ‘Medication Without Harm’ was launched. The aim of this report is to reduce severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50% globally and your organisation is striving to implement and deliver upon this aim.

For all of these reasons, I am delighted to welcome you and your conference to Cork today. UCC is the obvious choice of location with its College of Medicine and Health offering health professional degrees in over 10 healthcare disciplines.

Medication Safety has been at the forefront of Research here in UCC for many decades, but its prominence has been substantially raised since the foundation of the School of Pharmacy here in UCC, 20 years ago. Since then, researchers at the School of Pharmacy in UCC have published over 150 peer reviewed papers specifically focused on medication optimisation and patient safety.

The School of Pharmacy has played a significant role in the education and training of Pharmacists, key members of the multidisciplinary team and arguably medication specialists, for our healthcare sector. This has been achieved through their world class master’s in pharmacy, master’s in clinical pharmacy and PhDs in Clinical Pharmacy research.

This year’s conference Smarter Technology for a Safer tomorrow is an opportunity for delegates to share, learn and celebrate best practice in medication safety and enhance patient safety across the healthcare sector in Irish hospitals, public and private.

I know that there will be extensive discussion between colleagues here today, with wide networking opportunities. I would like to wish you all the very best for a successful conference today and sincere thanks to you all, for the work you do in our hospitals though out the country in promoting and ensuring a safer environment of our patients.