Crack down on grandfathered ownership rules: poll

Support for pharmacist ownership remains very strong, our latest poll reveals

The issue of pharmacy ownership has again surfaced with the news that Ramsay Health Care is to go ahead with its acquisition of Queensland’s Malouf Group.

Ramsay is on the record as having said that “ensuring the safe and competent practice of pharmacy and related services does not require a registered pharmacist to own a pharmacy”.

We wanted to know what you thought about this – and at the time of writing our poll shows that not only do AJP readers believe in pharmacy ownership, they want to crack down on existing irregularities.

The most popular response in our poll, selected by 39% of readers (229 people) was, “Yes, the current model needs to go further: don’t permit grandfathered ownership models like Friendly Societies”.

The stance that the current model works as it is came in second place, with 31% of readers (179 people) voting for this option.

Another 11% said that pharmacies should be at least part owned by pharmacists, but non-pharmacists could also be partners.

Only 8% said any fit and proper person should be able to own a pharmacy (a model New Zealand is working towards and Ramsay Health Care is advocating for).

Another 8% say corporations and other organisations should be able to own pharmacies.

Anthony Tassone, Pharmacy Guild – Victorian branch president, told the AJP that he’s not surprised by the strong support for pharmacist ownership or the sector’s belief that it supports safe practice.

“Pharmacy is a profession,” he says. “The Guild believes the public is best served when pharmacy services in the community are provided from a practice which is owned and controlled by pharmacists who are personally responsible for its conduct.”

The Guild strongly believes pharmacy ownership and control should be solely in the hands of registered pharmacists, he says.

“This ensures the protection of the public’s health and safety and ensures that quality professional services are available at all times.  

“Current ownership provisions and location rules ensures that pharmacies are well distributed throughout the Australian community. Pharmacies should remain located in registered premises which are separate from any retail premises, such as supermarkets. 

 “Survey results that affirm support for the current ownership model come as no surprise, the Guild believes that there is a public benefit in legislative restrictions being imposed both nationally and in relevant state and territory legislation.

“Pharmacist only ownership of pharmacies has consistently been supported by State and Territory governments across Australia, as well as all major political parties federally on all sides. 

“Most importantly, there is vast and repeated evidence of the strong community and consumer support for pharmacist only ownership of pharmacies and health professionals owning their practice generally.”

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  1. Nadhir Djoudi

    I’m afraid that giving exclusive or majority ownership to registered pharmacists doesn’t guarantee operations are always run with the utmost ethical and professional behaviour. What we need are regulations that protect whistle-blowers from within any dodgy operator. Without strong protection, a lot of staff will continue to ignore bad practices out of fear from reprisals such as dismissal or career stalling.

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