Give us a seat at the 7CPA table: CHF

Following this week’s announcement that the PSA would be co-signatory to the 7CPA, consumers want a voice too

The inclusion of the Pharmaceutical Society in the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement negotiations is a positive step, but it also highlights that consumers should have a voice too, according to the Consumers Health Forum.

“We urge government to include consumers in these discussions which involve the provision of more than $20 billion dollars over five years for the dispensing of prescribed medicines to the community,” said CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells.

“While today’s statement is a welcome move away from the bilateral negotiations between the retail pharmacy sector and government, it is time that consumers also have a seat at the table in deciding how best to serve the interests of patients and community.”

She noted that the PSA’s new report, Pharmacists in 2023 – launched at the Canberra event where Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement that PSA would co-sign the 7CPA – advocates more patient-centric care.

The CHF strongly supported this approach, she said.

“The role of the pharmacists as dispensers, quality use of medicines advisers and deliverers of aspects of primary health care is an important area of reform.”

But she said a “significant gap” remains in ensuring customers always get the information they need about their medicines, highlighting the issue of CMI provision and advice.

“Consumer Medicine Information leaflets are increasingly unavailable and consumers have told us that often they do not get advice from pharmacists and/or doctors about newly prescribed medicine,” Ms Wells said.

“The preliminary results of a survey by CHF on the CMI issue found that the majority of people said when they were given a new medicine they were not provided a CMI by their doctor (91%) or pharmacist (60%).

“Additionally, most respondents (91%) reported their pharmacist had not even advised them where they could access the CMI.

“The CHF survey also found that when given CMIs, fewer than half of the respondents thought the CMIs readable or useful which reinforced other work CHF and others have done on this issue.

“The vast majority of respondents (91%) believed that provision of CMIs by either a doctor, a pharmacist or both should be mandatory.

“Such issues could be pursued more effectively if consumer representatives were involved in high-level decision-making and advisory forums with government and this should include the pharmacy agreement discussions.”

Pharmacy needs to move from a dispensing mentality to one of community care – a shift which pharmacy and GP leaders have been calling for, she said.

“CHF’s research shows that consumers trust pharmacists, value community pharmacy and want pharmacy services to be opened up and integrated with the rest of the health system.

“Consumers have formed specific perceptions and preferences based on their experiences with the sector and these should be heard and considered as part of discussions to shape the future of pharmacy,” Ms Wells said.

In welcoming the Minister’s announcement earlier this week, PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman told the AJP that part of PSA’s role as co-signatory could be “bringing the views and thoughts of some of the other groups with us, whether they be consumer groups or other organisations”.

PSA would have a responsibility to consider their thoughts, he said, as the Community Pharmacy Agreements affect them and the entire health system, not just pharmacists.

However, “I’m not suggesting all those groups become co-signatories to the Agreement,” he said at the time.

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  1. Kevin Hayward

    Pharmacy needs to move from a dispensing mentality to one of community care ….this is an extraordinarily poignant comment on community pharmacy, it has to be the way forward, using our well educated pharmacist workforce to deliver community health care within the parameters of their professional competencies, well done CHF

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      Here’s the problem with that sentiment…. it doesn’t matter what pharmacy and pharmacists want, it matters what health consumers want.

      Most consumers of health care do not care one iota for pharmacist job satisfaction, or even what our professional responsibilities are…. they want quick unimpeded access to what they think is going to help them (rightly or wrongly).

      As for CPA – consumers may well have a place there, but I’d be cautious about CHF, despite their well-defined representative role, they are very much in tune with what the government message is… almost to say that they’ve been provided with that message ahead of time, so to speak.

    • Michael Dedajic

      Again and again, who is going to pay for the community care model. Should we all go line up at Canberra and put our hands out and hope we get something? Jarrod has nailed it. Its all about what the consumers want. They want it cheap and want it now. There will be a small population that will value the time and money spent on their healthcare but unfortunately that is slowly getting smaller and smaller.

  2. Nicholas Logan

    CHF will have to decide whether they support professional interaction or vending machine style pharmacies.

    • DVLChemist

      They’ve made it pretty damn clear they want supermarket pharmacy.

  3. Paul Sapardanis

    Why does the CHF even exist? Isn’t this why we have elected officials for? Aren’t they ment to represent patients in the next cpa?


    Pharmacy is going down the drain in the UK too. Some excerpts from a forum… sound familiar?:
    “Things are only going to get worse. So many pharmacies are understaffed and still not making enough profit for the big chain’s liking – when the next raft of cuts kick in, things will really hit the fan. Pharmacists will soon be on <30k [AUD$55k] across the country, newly qualifieds will be working 40 hours a week but their debts will continue to increase because they aren't even able to pay the interest on what they owe. How they will ever be able to buy their own home is beyond me."
    "It's a comical situation now in pharmacy – you don't have the manpower and resources to even clear the dispensing work, yet you've got your area manager on the phone pressuring you to do MUR [Medschecks], NMS [New Medicines Service], travel clinic, health checks, diabetes testing, BP monitoring etc. or whatever idiotic charade the clueless pharmacy bods think of next."
    "Capitalism and healthcare are not a good mix. Back in the 80s, pharmacies were remunerated properly, and dispensing was the main activity – none of these useless, ill-conceived "services" existed. Which meant that the pharmacist could take their time with each patient and really help the local community. As soon as it was monetised into these awful services, it became a kosh with which to beat the pharmacist into doing more and more and more, much to the detriment of patients."
    "….the UK is the only one where desperate pharmacists try and coax you into answering some pointless tick-box questions because they are being forced into it by an area manager who is not even a pharmacist.
    99% of pharmacy customers just want their medication dispensed promptly or to be sold an otc product, so maybe it would be a good idea to go back to doing what the best that we can instead of veering off-course with "*services*".
    Pharmacy in the UK took a massive nosedive in 2005 when MURs were introduced."
    The similarities to what is going on in Australia & the UK are amazing!

  5. PharmOwner

    I would make the point that consumers ARE already represented in CPA negotiations. They’re represented by their democratically elected parliamentary officials ie government

    • Jarrod McMaugh


      I’m involved with a number of consumer advocacy groups.

      There is a reason the exist, and government does not in any way talk for them

  6. Tim Hewitt

    Exactly WHO does the CHF represent?.. can a ‘çonsumer’ join the CHF? NO!! Its a nonsense..

    To quote peasant No1 (AKA consumer No1) in Monty P’s Holy Grail.. when Arthur declares ‘I am your King’ consumer/peasant replies ‘well I didn’t vote for you!’….

    I challenge everyone to log onto the CHF website and try become a member..attend an AGM then vote for the leadership! Ha!

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