A town with no medicines

Minister petitioned by a town without a pharmacy, and more argy bargy over PBS rejections, were parliamentary highlights last week

A majority of citizens of the small NSW town of Bonny Hills have signed a petition to Health Minister Greg Hunt asking for ministerial intervention to approve a pharmacy in the community.

The petition was tabled in the House of Representatives last week by the local MP, Dr David Gillespie (Nat, Lyne). 

Dr Gillespie said 2813 people had signed the petition, from a town of around 3000 residents. 

“Considering there are 3,000 people living in Bonny Hills and 2,813 signatures have been received, you can see how vitally important this issue is,” he said.

The township is located in growing Camden Haven area of the NSW Mid-North Coast, and an application for a pharmacy in the community had recently been rejected.

“This petition… draws the attention of the House to the fact this community is without reasonable access to the supply of Pharmaceutical Benefits by an approved pharmacist. This community… has been denied reasonable access to a pharmacy approved under Section 90 of the National Heath Act 1953 due to an unintended consequence of the application of the Pharmacy Location Rules,” the petition stated.

“A pharmacy there would be a great addition to quality of life as people wouldn’t have to travel south or north to find a pharmacy,” Dr Gillespie said.

“The rules need to be applied, but this is right on the borderline of the distance…. “

Meanwhile, the house also saw renewed debate over the level of new PBS approvals.

Pharmacist and MP Emma McBride (ALP, Dobell), said “the youngest and the oldest in our community have the biggest need for affordable health care, and this government has let them down”.

“What else did they try? The infamous $7 GP co-payment. On the one hand, the minister is spruiking listing things on the PBS; on the other hand, the government tried to increase the co-payment for medicines. You can’t have it both ways. The PBS is about affordable medicines. The PBS is about universal access to medicines. It’s outrageous!”

“The minister should stop politicalising the PBS,” she said.


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  1. Michael Khoo

    Google map reveals 2 pharmacies 2km north and another three in a major town less than 3km south. The location rules were created to de-politicise the issue. This has nothing to do with the now defunct GP copayment proposal, ( Abbott Government’s famous “Unpassable Budget” I believe ) or the listing of billions of dollars of new drugs listed since the current health minister was appointed. I am afraid the PBS became an issue when a previous government ( the Member for Dobell would know all about them ) refused to list many expensive life saving medicines even when recommended by the independent PBAC. Really, both sides of politics use the PBS as a football, so sticking to the rules is important.

    • Karen Pikett

      Google maps is wrong! It is 5.9km and 6km to the nearset pharmacies, accessible only by road not by foot or any other means, with very poor public transport, in an area with a skewed aged demographic. This town needs it’s own pharmacy

    • Concerned Pharmacist

      I agree. A 6-7 minute drive (as per google maps) is reasonable access to a pharmacy (in fact better access then most of us would have), not to mention a bus service running at lease two hourly in both directions (google maps). You could reasonable assume that those pharmacies (6-7 mins away) would also offer a delivery service for those unable to drive/catch transport (as many pharmacies do).
      Also I am a little skeptical about the 2813/3000 person petition.. would like to see the addresses of these people and see if they are actually in ‘Bonny Hills’ (and not neighboring suburb Lake Cathie ,that has the same post code and already 2 pharmacies). The current rules seem reasonable, why do we need to break them?

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