7CPA negotiations will be tough, challenging: Guild


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.”

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5 Comments

  1. Ex-Pharmacist
    07/06/2019

    Pamela Price, Guild Exec. Director: “At the Guild we are confident 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

    When the Guild talks about “full scope of practice” that benefits patients, employee pharmacists might get excited thinking this might mean pharmacists finally being able to bill medicare directly for services rendered. It is logical for pharmacists and even patients to think this, as every other health professional in Australia gets paid this way outside public health.

    Don’t get your hopes up.

    The Guild would sooner see hell freeze over before allowing pharmacists to bill MC directly.
    We must remember one of the core pillars of Guild strategy is every dollar of government payments to the private pharmacy sector must go to the section 90 pharmacy owner. Every dollar.

    And who is even advocating for this?
    The union? Nup.
    Surely the PSA?

    When you read the PSA charter, you would think they would be beating this drum loud and often: “The PSA works to identify, unlock and advance opportunities for pharmacists to realise their full potential, to be appropriately recognised and fairly remunerated.” (https://www.psa.org.au/about/about-psa/)
    Hogwash. The PSA is deafeningly silent on this.
    And the PSA shows yet again they have dropped the ball badly on advocating for employee pharmacists. Not surprising really, when you count up the number of pharmacy owners who make up the committees and senior positions within PSA. If the PSA were to be judged on ‘fair remuneration’, how would they rate? With the award rate sitting around $27, I don’t know about you, but I would give them a FAIL and promptly sack the lot of them. I.e. cancel my membership.

    So what Pam Price is actually talking about is adding even more menial tasks, demanding duties and unreasonable responsibilities to the already time poor, overworked, under-respected and grossly underpaid employee pharmacist and package them into 7CPA, for pharmacy owners to make even more profit from.
    And don’t ever forget this.

    Bottom line?
    Who in their right mind would want to be a community pharmacist?
    Seriously.

    • Anthony Tassone
      24/06/2019

      Ex-pharmacist

      As part of the recent consultation by the Primary Care reference group Medicare Benefits Schedule taskforce, the Guild lodged a submission which included the following in the summary section;

      – The Guild agrees that it would be appropriate for pharmacists to access the MBS when delivering services to consumers irrespective of where the pharmacist is practising.

      – We do not believe that the concept of “non-dispensing pharmacists” accessing MBS should exclude community pharmacy or be exclusive to GP surgeries. Pharmacists who are not dispensing can practise wherever there is a consumer need for such services as medicine reconciliation, medicines reviews, counselling and education services.

      – Pharmacists involved in the collaborative care of a patient as part of the health care team should not be excluded from the MBS due to their location. Pharmacists practising in community pharmacies are an integral member of a patient’s multidisciplinary healthcare team and should be involved in, and remunerated for activities consistent with other members of the team, such as case conferencing.

      – A patient accessing health services should not be disadvantaged by where they choose to access those services or by which health professional delivers them. Pharmacists currently have no option but to charge the patient a service fee for items that other health practitioners may be claim an MBS item for. The Guild supports the addition of pharmacists to the list of eligible health professions that can claim against specific items on the MBS, as set out in the Health Insurance Act 1973.

      – The Guild supports access to MBS under expansion of allied health categories and we also would suggest that pharmacists should be eligible for MBS items for provision of primary care health services to patients recognising equivalent competencies of pharmacists to other health professionals, such as nurse practitioners. This would be increasingly valuable in areas of reduced access to GPs or other health practitioners such as afterhours or in rural and remote Australia, where pharmacists could deliver equivalent services at equivalent costs.

      – Pharmacists should also be eligible for MBS items relating to chronic disease management and case conferencing activities. Examples of primary care health services include, and are not limited to, vaccination administration, wound management, chronic disease management (blood pressure, cholesterol, BGL checks), and asthma education. This recognises that pharmacists are integral to the collaborative care of a patient with chronic disease including all aspects of medication management. Integration of community pharmacy into the health care team through case conferencing and monitoring of aspects of care is vital for the holistic management and health outcomes for patients.

      ————————————
      The full submission should be available in the near future from the Guild’s website.
      It is best to be across all of the relevant and current facts prior to making the strong and unequivocal statements which you have made in your post.

      Anthony Tassone
      President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victoria Branch)

    • TALL POPPY
      24/06/2019

      Non-present owners love to sit back and let their worker pharmacist slaves struggle daily to meet targets. Multiple stores. Money rolls in – it’s that easy. You are right Ex-Pharmacist. Who would want to be a pharmacist these days – $28/hr award rates – $35/hr average. Unappreciated.
      On your feet all day without hope of ever opening your own pharmacy to ply your trade. Even IF you have the cash (was recently talking to a young pharmacist with well in excess $1mill in raw CASH saved up – only ever presented rubbish pharmacies to buy as the big boys get first bite. ALWAYS. They are now about to leave their profession). Not good.

  2. Bryan Soh
    22/06/2019

    I am hoping the government sees the lack of “value” provided by certain CPA services ie clinical interventions and mandates getting rid of it. To think that pharmacists spent 4 years in tertiary training just to type rubbish into Guildcare (of which the majority are fraudulent) is a complete joke, not to mention degrading.

    • Anthony Tassone
      24/06/2019

      Bryan

      Medication adherence and management programs (including Clinical interventions) funded under the 6th Community Pharmacy agreement are “subject to cost effectiveness assessment outcomes from the Medical Services Advisory Committee (or other health technology assessment body, as determined by the Minister) and decisions by the Minister.”

      This can be found on page 29 of the Sixth community pharmacy agreement available via the below link;

      https://www.guild.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/6100/6cpa-final-24-may-201558b59133c06d6d6b9691ff000026bd16.pdf

      I am not aware of substantive evidence to substantiate your assertion of the legitimacy of the ‘majority’ of clinical intervention services.

      Anthony Tassone
      President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victoria Branch)

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