There were some low blows and cheap shots at the Pharmacy Guild’s Great Debate on the Saturday afternoon of APP2018
Were things really better in the “good old days”?
This was the topic explored in the tongue-in-cheek Great Debate session held at APP2018 to mark the 90th anniversary of the Pharmacy Guild.
Arguing that things were indeed better in the past were:
- John Bronger, Former National President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia
- Toni Riley, National Project Manager, The National RUM Project
- Natalie Willis, Branch Committee Member, The Pharmacy Guild WA Branch.
And arguing as part of the negative team was:
- Trent Twomey, Branch President, Pharmacy Guild QLD Branch
- Wendy Phillips, Former Executive Director, Pharmacy Guild of Australia
- Catherine Bronger, Branch Committee Member, Pharmacy Guild NSW Branch.
The Golden Years?
“It was far better in the old days,” Mr Bronger exclaimed wistfully for the affirmative team.
“About 2000 women stormed Parliament when we lost $1 million in the PBS. What happened when the pharmacists took action when the PBS got cut?
“By the second or third agreement we were starting to claw back.
“They were great years to build on. [They were] golden years when our members were galvanised to make the change.”
Ms Riley spoke on the importance of the CPAs, with the first two being landmark agreements for pharmacy.
“These were really good times for pharmacy because we were pulling up our socks and going ahead.
“It was a pinnacle of value for our pharmacies at that stage. Along came the fourth, fifth and sixth agreements and they became increasingly complex and they were never finished – they continued to be negotiated all the way through.
“Over the last 10, 15 years it’s become a lot more difficult.”
Ms Riley also pointed out that pharmacists haven’t been the number one trusted profession for a while now, falling behind doctors and nurses.
“We need to get back to valuing those relationships,” she said.
“Starry eyed memory” of what was
“Whilst we may stand on the shoulders of giants … the future is brighter than we’ve seen yet,” argued negative team captain Mr Twomey.
We are seeing a shift in power from the professional to the consumer, he said.
“When the power shifts from the professions to the consumer, I really think it’s community pharmacy’s time to shine.
“When power shifts from the dinosaur to the consumer, I really think consumer will choose us because we are more accessible to the medical profession, we are more open,” said Mr Twomey.
“I think 2025 community pharmacy will be stronger than what it was in 1985 because it won’t be subject to price disclosure, it will be offering more than just products, people will be coming to us for professional services, for vaccinations.”
Ms Bronger agreed that there has been an expansion of services.
“The affirmative side has the starry eyed memory of what was but I say times have changed and have changed for the better,” she argued for the negative side.
“[Past pharmacists] had to fight because the times weren’t good for when they fought.
“I agree with your arguments because they have made times better now than where they were before.
“Consumers come into my store every day and I can tell you, they still trust me. We are still trusted well by the people.
“We have advances in practices that have never seen the light of day anymore. We treat people with hepatitis, today let’s talk about pharmacy and how patients are better treated with the evolution of professional services.
“Diabetes educators, integrated health… we vaccinate in our pharmacies.
“Today things are better than when we sold tins of tuna and coffee in our pharmacy.”
“This generation is the ‘slasher’ generation, it will be the generation that will be diabetes educators and will enhance the scope of practice.
“We can now text patients and tell them to pick up their medications.
“Let’s not be the Blockbuster video store that turned down Netflix. Times are better now, you just need to pull your head out of the clouds and see it.”
But what did her father have to say in response?
“Catherine’s political correctness is one of the reasons that we’re slowing down in development of any of the agreements.
“I just want to tell you that I’m sick and tired of the Facebook admirals that run our profession now.
“I’d just like to make a statement: it is not the critic that counts… the credit belongs to the man who was actually in the arena. Because there is no effort without error or shortcomings…
“Get some guts you princesses!”
Using the conference app to vote for a winner, the audience chose the negative team, with the majority agreeing with them that things are better now than in the old days.