‘COVID-19 makes settling a 7CPA more urgent, not less.’

Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen has written to the Health Minister asking a question: where is the 7CPA?

AJP reproduces his letter in full below.

Dear Minister,

I write regarding the imminent expiry of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement and the urgent need to strike a new Agreement.

As you know, successive CPAs have ensured a strong partnership between the Commonwealth and community pharmacy since the Hawke-Keating Government signed the First Agreement. CPAs provide much-needed certainty for Australia’s 5,800 community pharmacies, their staff, and most importantly their millions of patients.

With just three months until the 6CPA expires, and having missed your Government’s deadline to sign a new Agreement in 2019, I am concerned that this certainty is now being undermined.

Certainty is all the more important given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Community pharmacies are at the frontline of Australia’s response to the outbreak, but face a range of challenges. These include shortages of personal protective equipment, widespread out-of-stocks (on which I have written to you separately), and in some cases even harassment and violence.

My firm view is that COVID-19 makes settling a 7CPA more urgent, not less. I also note that elements of a 7CPA may need to be legislated, and that the Parliament may only sit once more before the 6CPA expires.

As I had planned to reiterate in my speech at the Australian Pharmacy Professional conference last month, I believe the 7CPA must address two issues in particular.

The first is the affordability of PBS medicines for Australians. According to your Government’s own data, around one million Australians a year delay or avoid filling scripts due to cost. That cannot be allowed to continue.

The second is the role of community pharmacies in primary health care. That role has been highlighted during previous flu seasons, the recent summer of bushfires, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. While the role of pharmacists relative to other health professionals is ultimately a clinical question, policy and funding support for that role must be included in the next Agreement.

I therefore ask you to update me on the progress of 7CPA negotiations, and urge you to conclude those negotiations as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. Chris Bowen MP

Shadow Minister for Health

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