Getting the right location

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Flexibility is the key to new location rules changes, Minister says

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says changes to the pharmacy location rules will achieve flexibility for pharmacy owners and for patients.

The new rules, published online today, will come in effect October 3, 2018. They have been developed following “extensive consultation and negotiation with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia”, the Department of Health says. 

While the straight line distance required between pharmacies has been reduced, pharmacies will have to stay in a location for longer before they can be moved.

“The amended Rules are intended to provide further stability of the community pharmacy network and address a number of minor anomalies that have been identified over time,” the Department said.

Mr Hunt said in a statement to AJP: “Pharmacists are an integral part of our community. These changes enable pharmacies greater flexibility to set up their business where they can best serve the community.

“This is particularly important for our older Australians who rely heavily on their pharmacist for advice and support.”

Among the key changes highlighted by the Minister are:

  • increased flexibility to allow pharmacists to relocate out of shopping centres – by “reducing the straight line distance that proposed premises must be from other existing pharmacies not located in the same large shopping centre, from 500 m to 300 m,” the Department’s FAQ page states;
  • amendments to the requirements for replacing a pharmacy that has relocated out of a shopping centre – the new requirements are intended to prevent the establishment of a new additional pharmacy in a large shopping centre where it is the replacement of a previous pharmacy that relocated out of the centre within the previous 12 months (ie. ‘backfilling’);
  • improving access to a pharmacy in large medical centres, by reducing the required distance from nearby pharmacies – from 500m to 300m;
  • an increase of the time that a pharmacist must remain in one location prior to relocating from two to five years; and
  • introducing a new rule that allows pharmacies to relocate between 1km and 1.5km from their existing location – providing “a degree of flexibility to relocate an existing approval whilst avoiding unnecessary clustering of approved premises by requiring that the proposed premises must be a minimum distance from the nearest approved premises”.

There are also some amendments made to definitions:

  • replacing ‘facility’ with ‘designated complex’ to describe a small shopping centre, a large shopping centre, a large medical centre or a large private hospital;
  • changing the definition of ‘gross leasable area’ as it applies to a supermarket to recognise the difficulty that some applicants had in sourcing the GLA as it was defined; 
  • changing the definition of ‘large shopping centre’ to include a supermarket with a GLA of 2,500 m2 rather than 1,000 m2, to be consistent with the supermarket GLA required for a small shopping centre.

The amended Rules are legislated under the National Health (Australian Community Pharmacy Authority Rules) Determination 2018 made under section 99L of the National Health Act 1953.

The amended Rules come into effect on 3 October 2018, which means that any application lodged on or after this date will be considered under the amended Rules.

Any applications received prior to this date will be considered under the Rules in effect prior to 3 October 2018.

A new application form will be required for applications made on or after 3 October 2018. The new application form is available Department of Health’s website or by phoning 132 290 and asking to speak to the Pharmacy Program Officer in your state or territory. 

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