In her first editorial as interim executive director of the Pharmacy Guild, Pam Price has highlighted political support for community pharmacy
She said that this month’s APP conference produced some “outstanding” insights into community pharmacy in Australia and internationally, including how community pharmacists can practise to their full scope of expertise.
Health Minister Greg Hunt made a number of announcements providing additional certainty for community pharmacy small businesses.
Mr Hunt committed the Government to retaining the current level of the prescription Administration, Handling and Infrastructure fee indexed through to mid-2023, an announcement which gives Guild Members more confidence as they continue to invest in their businesses and employ staff, she wrote.
“In other measures to support community pharmacy Mr Hunt also:
Announced a significant improvement in PBS payment timeframes that will see pharmacies reimbursed for PBS prescriptions within two to nine days of dispensing, rather than the current nine to 16 days. This is an important improvement in cash flow for community pharmacy small businesses.
Committed a re-elected Coalition Government to an early negotiation of the next Community Pharmacy Agreement by the end of this year, six months ahead of the expiry of the current Agreement.
Committed to working through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to ensure pharmacies are given access to National Immunisation Program vaccination stocks in all States and Territories.
Announced a $5 million mental health pharmacy trial across three States. The trial will have a focus on medication adherence for mental health patients.”
Ms Price writes that Mr Hunt also acknowledged community pharmacy concerns about the optional $1 copayment discount, and undertook to include consideration of the Guild’s concerns about the inequity of the policy in negotiations for the Seventh Agreement”.
As for Labor, the Opposition has now released its letter of commitment to community pharmacy ahead of the federal election; Ms Price says that as usual, the Guild will receive letters of support from other major parties as the election looms, which it plans to share with Guild members and the public.
The ALP’s letter “reiterates Labor’s support for the existing pharmacy model and commits an incoming Labor Government to early and inclusive negotiation of the next Community Pharmacy Agreement,” Ms Price writes.
“The letter says a Shorten Labor Government will seek to find ways to harmonise State laws and programs on the supply of medicines and vaccines, Opioid Dependence Treatment, and continuity of supply after natural disasters.
“Releasing the letter at APP, Ms King said: ‘The next agreement will also need to consider the role of pharmacists in primary health care reform. Labor shares the Guild’s belief that pharmacists should work to their full scope of practice, without fragmenting care or duplicating service.’
“Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack expressed his strong support for the important role of community pharmacies in rural and regional parts of Australia.”
Ms Price writes that the Guild welcomes these expressions of support for community pharmacies and is pleased to have dialogue with all sides of politics.