The Pharmacy Guild has conceded that there will be disagreements ahead, highlighting the “flawed” $1 discount policy
With Greg Hunt to retain the Health portfolio as pharmacy enters 7CPA negotiations, the Pharmacy Guild has welcomed the Minister’s experience and knowledge of the pharmacy sector, which it says will be “critical in what will be a challenging time ahead”.
Guild executive director Pam Price adds that the Guild and its members have “greatly appreciated” Minister Hunt’s action on issues including the Administration, Handling and Infrastructure fee, and in legislating to make location rules permanent.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister Hunt indicated they would lead early negotiations into the 7CPA, the Guild says it looks forward to the start of these talks.
However the organisation also signals “tough” times ahead.
“We also know that the negotiations for the next agreement will be tough and there will be times when the Government and Minister Hunt may well disagree with the views of the Guild. And vice versa,” writes Ms Price.
“But at the Guild we are confident that we will arrive at a good agreement, an agreement that ensures viability for the community pharmacy sector while prioritising positive patient outcomes.”
The Guild says it ideally wants to pursue agreement from Minister Hunt and the government that the $1 discount is a flawed policy, arguing that it is increasing the health divide by diminishing the universality of the PBS.
“We have proposed that it be replaced with a universal $1 drop in prescription prices which means everyone, regardless of where they live in Australia, would benefit – a move that is both smart politics and good policy,” says Ms Price.
In its letter of support to the Guild, the Coalition committed to “careful consideration” of the optional $1 discount, which it says has a role in improving affordability for consumers, particularly in rural and regional areas.
“This is not the first time we have been promised a review of the $1 discount – but we live in hope,” said Guild national president George Tambassis in a statement to members.
The Guild also indicates its interest in gaining full scope of practice for pharmacists.
“At the Guild we are confident also that Minister Hunt recognises the huge benefits that are available in allowing pharmacists to work to their full scope of practice – benefits to patients and to the overall health system – and we will continue to advocate for this,” says Ms Price.
“We are confident we will work collaboratively to ensure certainty for the profession and better health outcomes for patients.”