Dubbo a winner, says Minister

The city of Dubbo. Image courtesy Dubbo Regional Council via Twitter.

Pharmacies in the regional NSW city of Dubbo are set to receive $3,000 a year from the RPMA program, Mark Coulton says in a statement

Federal Regional Health Minister and Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton says that changes to the Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) program will help maintain access to medicines and pharmacy services in Dubbo.

The RPMA, which recently saw the transition from the previous Pharmacy Accessibility Remoteness Index (PhARIA) to the Modified Monash Model (MMM) for rural classification, has drawn significant criticism from some quarters of the pharmacy sector, with AJP recently reporting that Rural Pharmacy Network Australia spokesperson Peter Crothers said some pharmacies are “significantly worse off” as a result of the change.

A week after this article was published, Mr Coulton has said that “Community pharmacies, like Orana Mall Pharmacy, play a vital role delivering medicines and essential health services for the third of Australians who live in regional, rural and remote areas”.

“They continue to do a tremendous job supporting the health and wellbeing of regional patients and this is certainly evident during natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Government recognises the importance of maintaining the pharmacy network to provide a steady and reliable supply of medicines and other pharmacy services, in particular to people in the regions.”

The changes are an outcome of the 7CPA, he said.

Co-owner of Orana Mall Pharmacy in Dubbo Simon Blacker, said the RPMA is a vital support in helping community pharmacies meet the needs of patients in regional, rural and remote areas. Mr Blacker is also the ACT Branch president of the Pharmacy Guild.

“Under the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement signed last year, the substantial increase in funding under this important program has resulted in 400 more pharmacies across regional, rural and remote Australia now being eligible for support,” Mr Blacker said.

“This means they can provide more services to patients in these areas, which at times have been may have been left at a disadvantage compared with urban pharmacies.”

Mr Blacker said the new arrangement brought regional pharmacy classifications in line with the same rurality model used for GPs.

“Overall, this provides a fairer and more equitable outcome for pharmacies and patients in regional, rural and remote Australia, with the potential for further opportunities into the future which would improve health outcomes in these local communities,” Mr Blacker said.

Minister Coulton said the Coalition Government boosted its investment in the RPMA program from $16 million per year to $21 million per year under the 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement. Across regional Australia the RPMA program will support more than 1,200 pharmacies, which includes 400 new eligible pharmacies to participate in the program, he said.

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