The Pharmacy Guild has reiterated its request for the King Review to disclose its dealings with Deloitte Australia in “conflict of interest” furore
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Guild has again called for the Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation Review to address concerns that its independence and credibility have been compromised.
The Guild has stated it is pursuing a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to gain access to all documentation relating to the Review’s interactions with Deloitte Australia.
“This action need not proceed if the Review were to release all relevant information in a transparent and accountable way,” says the Guild.
“It is imperative that all documentation relating to the Review’s interactions with Deloitte is made public as soon as possible.”
Deloitte Australia was engaged by the Pharmacy Review to conduct a study of international pharmacy remuneration and regulation at the same time it produced a major report which was appended to the Chemist Warehouse submission to the Review.
The Chemist Warehouse submission argued for reforming ownership and location rules for community pharmacy in Australia.
“In the Guild’s view, there is a fundamental conflict of interest having an organisation working for the Review, and at the same time participating in submissions to the Review,” Guild national president George Tambassis said in late 2016.
“There appears to have been a serious breakdown in the Review’s due diligence in the engagement of this consultancy and a failure to be transparent and take rectifying action once the conflict of interest became known last September.”
“This conflict seriously undermines the independence of the Review and makes it virtually impossible for it to make untainted recommendations, particularly in regard to location rules,” Tambassis said.
However, the Department of Health responded to the Guild’s claims of conflict of interest in late December saying the Review’s engagement of Deloitte was not inappropriate.
“The Department of Health has been made aware of certain claims made in regards to the due diligence of the Review Secretariat in procuring an international literature review to support the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation,” the Department said.
“This, and all other procurements conducted in relation to the Review, have been performed in line with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and Departmental guidance to ensure accountability and transparency in decision making.”
The Department also provided a statement from Deloitte, which said it takes conflicts of interest seriously.
“We acknowledge that in providing a range of services to clients in a given sector there is the need for extreme sensitivity to any risk of potential perceived or actual conflicts,” the consultancy wrote.
“Deloitte has an established system of quality controls designed to enable the firm and its personnel to comply with professional and ethical requirements, including identifying and managing potential conflicts of interest.”