The Pharmacy Guild has responded to media reports that Ramsay Health Care is set to open a Melbourne pharmacy by pointing out that community pharmacies must be owned by registered pharmacists.
And it is imperative that this requirement be upheld, the Guild says.
A report in Fairfax media on the weekend quoted the large private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care saying that it has “opened its first central-city pharmacy” in Melbourne.
The report said Ramsay had “taken a lease” over 300 square metres in a Melbourne CBD building to establish “a full-line Ramsay pharmacy.”
This is reportedly planned to be a “hyper-store” selling medicines and medical services including Chinese medicine.
Ramsay anticipates opening the pharmacy early next year.
The report also said: “Ramsay operates three pharmacies in suburban Melbourne… Across the rest of Australia it has accumulated 22 pharmacies.”
The Guild says that the pharmacy sector is highly competitive and Ramsay’s broadening into retail pharmacy is part of the ongoing competitive landscape.
However, there are certain regulatory requirements around pharmacy ownership in Australian States and Territories and the Guild believes these must be complied with, and enforced, it says.
Before the recent Federal election, the leaders of the Liberals, the Nationals, Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team all committed in writing to pharmacist-only ownership of community pharmacy.
With more than 350 million patient visits annually and customer satisfaction ratings exceeding ninety percent, the legislated community pharmacy ownership model enjoys the overwhelming support of the Australian public, the Guild points out.
The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, says: “Australians have made very clear that they want their health system to put patients before profits.
“That is why it is critical that community pharmacies continue to be owned and controlled by practising professional pharmacists rather than big corporates which, by law, must put their shareholders first.
“The Pharmacy Guild will work with governments and regulators around Australia to ensure that pharmacist-only, pharmacy ownership laws are maintained, enforced and, if necessary, strengthened so that their clear public intent is not undermined,” Tambassis says.
Image: 111 Bourke Street, where Ramsay reportedly plans to open the hyper-pharmacy. Courtesy Google Maps.