Are we in agreement?

Sussan Ley
Former Health Minister Sussan Ley oversaw a difficult 6CPA negotiation process

We’re now into the second half of the five-year CPA cycle, so what’s the time frame for the seventh iteration of the Guild-Government agreement? 

In racing terms we’re into the closing stages, but not yet the home straight of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

Signed, sealed and delivered in 2015, the 6CPA is set to expire on 30 June 2020.

While still two years away, we know from past experience that the posturing and politicking of the key parties to the agreement usually begins a couple of years away from the official expiry date of the existing version.

So, given we are now nearly at that time, has there been any word from the Government or the Department of Health on an official time-frame for negotiations to kick-off?

Nothing has been heard yet according to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. But that’s not surprising as, according to Section 10.4 of the 6CPA, ‘Arrangements at the end of this Agreement’: “the parties will use their best endeavours to ensure that negotiations for any new community pharmacy agreement to apply after the expiry of this Agreement will commence 12 months prior to the expiry of this Agreement, and conclude by 31 March 2020”.

However, while this is the official stance, the agreement preliminary phases tend to evolve organically and take on a life of their own.

The Guild wants the existing timeline to be honoured, with a spokesperson saying: “the Agreements provide certainty and stability for business owners, allowing them confidence to make investments and employ staff, so we would hope the timeline expressed in 6CPA is met – namely completion of a new Agreement well before the expiry of the current Agreement”.

In the lead-up to the 6CPA there was an, at-times, quite vitriolic media campaign which caused ill-feeling on both sides of the negotiating table. This began a couple of years before the eventual 6CPA. 

In addition, the 7CPA negotiation cycle will be complicated by Federal political cycles, with a Federal election due to be held in, or before, May 2019 – so right in the early stages of negotiations. 

Another unique factor for the new agreement is the signing of the Pharmacy Compact, a formal, agreed amendment to 6CPA, which is not yet 12 months old.

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