Opposition leader Bill Shorten has highlighted pharmacists’ roles beyond the dispensary

Speaking at the Pharmacy Guild’s Parliamentary Dinner on Tuesday night, Mr Shorten praised pharmacists for diversifying into professional services.

“There is the consumer perception that pharmacies are product-driven, just doling out medicine like merchandise.

“I wanted to speak to you tonight, because I want you to know, that I and my Party understand that you and your businesses represented here, are not simply and certainly not prescription-administering factories,” he said.

“You stand along Australia’s GPs, our nurses and our allied health professionals, on the front line.

“Not just dispensing medicine – you look at the whole patient, you sit down with them, you see the mind, you see the body – you see the whole person.

“And with our ageing population, with more of us living into the final quarter of a century of life, and with more Australians requiring multiple medicines to treat complex chronic diseases, your advice and counsel is only going to become more important.”

Mr Shorten also reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to “the current system of community pharmacy”, citing location and ownership rules.

“Nations that invest in accessible and affordable care inevitably and always achieve better health outcomes, at a lower cost and with greater equity,” he said.

“Now, we achieve this in this country with a strong, properly-funded Medicare system – and with a comprehensive Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

“It’s why Labor voted to renew the location rules last year.  It is why we support the current system of community pharmacy, including pharmacy ownership by pharmacists – it is the best means to achieve a network of community pharmacies providing that professional advice and support, the view of the patient as a whole person.”

He also agreed to support the Prime Minister’s announcement that the government would adjust remuneration for dispensing medicines under the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Service Program, to be equivalent to the PBS dispensing fee when not a bulk supply.

“I’m pleased because of our election commitment, to address the inequity in relation to remote patients, principally Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their prescriptions,” said Mr Shorten.

“We will, therefore, support the Prime Minister’s commitment which he stated tonight to remedy this inequity – we can work together in this Parliament if we try hard enough.”