Guild ‘only thinking of business profits’, say docs

The RACGP has “called out” the Guild over script lengths, and again attacked pharmacists over the timing of flu vaccinations

Last week, the Government decided it would not go ahead with a proposal to double dispensing quantities for some drugs, which was widely reported to have been a Budget measure to be introduced on Tuesday.

The decision followed an ad taken out in The Australian by the Guild urging the Government to support community pharmacy in the Budget; and a communique from Guild national president George Tambassis letting members know the organisation was in “dispute” with the Government over the measure.

The RACGP issued a statement saying it had “called out the Pharmacy Guild’s latest successful lobbying move to restrict the amount that can be dispensed at any one time for 143 common medications, saying the Guild was only thinking of business profits”.

“The public needs to be aware that when it comes down to pharmacy profits or patient benefits, the patient comes second to the Guild,” RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said.

“This issue is particularly concerning for me at the moment, as a GP going into flu season. When you see a pharmacist trying to administer flu vaccinations too early, you do have to wonder why patient safety is not the first priority.”

Last week Dr Nespolon had told Nine News that consumers “might be confronted with, ‘do you want a bottle of perfume with your flu vax,” if they sought vaccination in pharmacy.

The RACGP said that the Guild’s lobbying had eliminated the potential to reduce patients’ out of pocket costs, improve access, and improve medication compliance.

“The Guild’s successful lobbying means a patient in a rural area taking a basic medication responsibility will now be required to travel into their nearest town more frequently to fill a simple script. Most patients just do not have time for this,” Dr Nespolon said.

“Any patient who is not in the position to manage a 60 day dispense instead of 30 days would have been able to be easily managed by their treating professional. Removing the benefits from other patients is simply short sighted.”

The RACGP said that there was “no way to confuse what has happened behind the scenes of the Guild’s lobbying”.

”The Pharmacy Guilds’ own email to its members it noted its concern on how 60-day dispenses would affect pharmacy profits,” Dr Nespolon said.

 “What I want to see from the Pharmacy Guild is a refocus on what can bring benefits to both the patient and the pharmacist, unfortunately this has not been the case in this decision.”

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  1. Wilson Tan

    It must take a special character to be one of those doctors who slight or slander another health professional. The qualification is a lack of empathy, that’s why we always hear about the lack of doctor’s bedside manners.

    Notwithstanding that the Medical Board “A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia” sect 4.2.3 on behaving professionally & courteously to colleagues and other practitioners including when using social media, these individuals feel entitled to do so. Quite simply these individuals feel above the law.

    Why? Well, because they can and do get away with it, as the Medical Board of Australia does not enforce this.

  2. PharmOwner

    “When you see a pharmacist trying to administer flu vaccinations too early” Where’s the evidence for this?
    I, and I imagine most other responsible pharmacists would be advocating flu vaccines be done from late April and into May

    • Alexander Wong

      Actually the Guild itself has defended its position for starting vaccinations early. They are arguing herd immunity.

      I believe it is not known if starting vaccination early is a net benefit or loss for public health in Australia. More people vaccinated (when they may not have been vaccinated otherwise) vs peak immunity during peak season (but possibly less of the public vaccinated).

      The vaccination program has been a huge success so basing on past results, it doesn’t seem too detrimental.

      On a side note, the flu season may have stated early this season with record confirmed cases already reported. (cite: Chief Medical Officer) This further negates the need to be arguing about vaccination administration times in this current clinical context.

  3. Apotheke

    I thought the RACGP was the professional body responsible for providing training and accreditation to its GP members not another attack dog like the AMA protecting GP’s incomes. I well understand that the AMA, the doctor’s union,is out to protect and improve doctotrs’s incomes after all that is their core role just like it is the role of the Pharmacy Guild to protect and enhance the incomes of pharmacy owners.I am waiting with bated breath for the Guild and the AMA and other medical bodies to stop squabbling over funding and co-operate to make healthcare funding much more sustainable for everyone in the sector so they can simply get on with doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

  4. Andrew

    “The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is the national peak body representing community pharmacy. It seeks to serve the interests of its members and to support community pharmacy in its role delivering quality health outcomes for all Australians.”

    Harry’s right – it’s there in the first sentence; the body controlling pharmacy funding has the stated goal of serving the interests of business owners and there’s no mention of serving to improve the health of the community. Many, many, many policy decisions from the Guild follow this model and it’s about time it was more widely acknowledged.

    • Ex-Pharmacist

      Exactly right Andrew. My perception is the public are slowly wising up to the pharmacy guild, via social and mainstream media, to its relentless self-serving lobbying efforts in Canberra. All the political power the guild holds over the government-of-the-day comes from the people, and its ability to mount political campaigns in electorates around the country via its network of pharmacies. The guild knows if its loses the confidence of the people, it loses the ability to influence on the hill. The Guild has taken some serious political damage over the last week with its “profit before patients” stance, via the mainstream media attention and very effective communication by the AMA & RACGP. Guild members who have retaliated with calls to limit GP visits have rightly been seen as petty and puerile.

    • Nick

      Guild represent pharmacy owners
      Not pharmacists

  5. Michael Khoo

    To state the obvious, It would be impossible to provide a community service without a viable business model. I demand that the Guild defend the financial viability of its membership, as I would expect the membership of the AMA and to some extend the RACGP would do in kind. This is why the Guild exists, and is one reason why community pharmacy remains viable, sustainable and of high quality.

    Should the shoe be on the other foot, I expect the leadership of the Guild to behave in a respectful way in
    their relations with other professions, and would be disappointed if they sniped and sought to undermine the legitimate cause of other professionals for their own political/financial benefit.

    I hope AMA and RACGP members expect the same.

  6. Larentina Brown

    There’s this nice and cute regulation. Her name is reg 24. Reg 24 feels abandoned as doctors don’t know that they can scribble it on the Rx and voila problem solved.

  7. Tony Lee

    Dr Nespolin is a very poor choice to head that esteemed unblemished body called the RACGP. His statements rattle suggesting the marble bag is not full. The college has been a closed castle for years now and need to bridge the moat and meet the people.
    The Guild of course tries to maximize profits for members & establish future pathways. It is not unconscionable and always looks to keep public benefit within policies.

  8. Paige

    The hypocrisy is suffocating

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