‘If they do this, they are the most heartless, gutless people’

The Pharmacy Guild’s Kos Sclavos has condemned the Productivity Commission as “ruthless” and “un-Australian”

Speaking at the Pharmacy Assistant conference on the Gold Coast, the immediate past Guild president warned of the devastating impact the Commission’s recommendations on pharmacy would have on Australians, their heath and the pharmacy sector.

This week’s report by the Commission included a recommendation that Australia “embrace technology to change the pharmacy model”. This would include automating dispensing, which would be overseen by people with “substantially less” training than that currently undertaken by pharmacists.

If implemented, the health sector would also “identify where it is cost effective to use pharmacists in primary health, taking into account the capabilities of lower-cost health professionals, and the increasingly greater capacity for information systems to provide accurate advice about medicines to GPs and other professionals”.

Vending machines could be used to dispense PBS drugs in certain locations, the report suggests.

Mr Sclavos called the report a “bloody shocker” and condemned the Commission as “ruthless” and “basically they’re un-Australian”.

“Either they don’t understand pharmacy and the sector, which is embarrassing because they’re the Productivity Commission, or they don’t care about the patients,” he said.

“There’s 3,000 products that the wholesalers have that are on the PBS, and there’s no vending machine in the world that can hold those 3,000 products.”

This means it would be simply a case of “bad luck” for patients living in one-pharmacy towns, for those with rare conditions, those who need drugs dispensed in liquid form and those with disabilities. After hours services would likely grind to a halt.

The Productivity Commission’s only care is that people are productive, he said.

“When you’ve got vending machines, you can’t have controlled drugs.

“They don’t understand that it’s not just about PBS medicines.”

Minor ailments services and non-PBS items such as S2 and S3 drugs would also not be provided under the “dumbed-down” model suggested, Mr Sclavos told the conference.

“If they do this, they are the most heartless, gutless people”.

Mr Sclavos also used the presentation to take a swing at Professor Stephen King, whose tardy Remuneration and Regulation review began from a position where Prof King “never liked pharmacy from Day One”.

For example, “he doesn’t think pharmacies should be in the CBD” as under the “unviable” dispensing remuneration suggested in the interim report, pharmacies would not be able to afford the overheads associated with operating in a CBD area.

The Guild’s “fundamental issue” is about ensuring patients have the best possible access to medicines, advice and pharmacy services, he says.

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  1. bernardlou1

    And doctor Google can replace doctors.
    Excellent we will get treated by doctor google and get our medicines dispensed by robots. Why worry about the humane touch?

    • PharmOwner

      Can I sue Dr Google if it fails to diagnose my bowel cancer?

  2. Vicki Dyson

    Time and time again, we see health policy made by folk who don’t seem to realise that a large chunk of health consumers are not people like themselves (middleclass, literate, somewhat able to source health information themselves). They are the old, the less literate, those with mental illness, those with chronic disease who need every bit of help they can to bring provision of health to the standard which the policy makers may enjoy.

    • Willy the chemist

      Oh “health consumers are not people like themselves(middle class, literate ..) “

      My experience of “literate” people are that they are just as clueless about medicines and health. Being able to read does not make a pharmacist, doctor, lawyer or judge or engineer.

      I’ve friends who are solicitor and financiers running their businesses ask health related questions that would show they don’t know much about healthcare.

      The world’s going stupid I reckon.

    • FakeMoralOutrage

      See my comment above.
      A lot of people got paid a lot of money to hold meetings, drink tea and eat biscuits. Here’s what they came up with in order to keep getting paid !

  3. Bluebottle

    #idliketoseeavendingmachinehandlethat Talking a schizophrenic into continuing his medication.

  4. FakeMoralOutrage

    I don’t often find myself agreeing with the very same Guild that voted to keep our already princely rates down where they were 10 years ago, but I’ll back them on this one.

    Put simply, “Wow”… A lot of highly paid, upper middle class, decision-making nobodies must have been under pressure to justify their sybaritic life of meetings, tea, biscuits and corporate benefits and here it is !

    The productivity commission is a contradiction in terms (as commissions rarely lead to any tangible benefits) and I hope that one day, these people find themselves hungry, stressed, thinking of home and dying for a toilet break in the same way Ye Olde Compoundinge Apothecarye spends most of his/her day.

    Fine… have your Megaclinics and labelling machines dotted around the outback (good luck keeping them cool) and as part of your eugenic agenda, have all pharmacists imprisoned and “rehabilitated” but before you do so… Ask yourself;

    1) Who will take the responsibility for whatever it is that the machine spits out ?
    2) Who will take the responsibility for the advice given on the questions that go with said product ?
    3) Who will help you source the stuff that the machine doesn’t stock or cannot auto-order ?
    4) Who will assist with the paperwork in correcting prescriptions and concession issues ?
    5) Who will amend directions and details as therapy changes ? (Also see #2)
    6) Who will act as a liaison between the various medical disciplines in order to maintain safety ? (See #2)
    7) Who will help make sense of the latest health craze or fad diet ? (Together with #2)
    8) Who will handle the specialised items like DDs and cytotoxics ? (See #2 as well)
    9) Who will provide some degree of support referral to those suffering severe illness and distress? (#2)
    10) Who will ring the Poisons Information Centre when it all goes pear shaped ? (#2 again !)

    It was only a matter of time before the productivity commission turned its guns towards pharmacy and it will soon be off to rubbish another field of work in its never ending quest for a people-free world of drones serving drones.

    As it is, many pharmacists (including myself) already feel demoralised, devalued and lost in the wreckage of what was once a decent profession and it is only a matter of time before a Cochrane review states that pharmacy as a profession is of no greater benefit than placebo. Perhaps we don’t really matter at all and pharmacy should be purged from the history of mankind as a theatrical construct of little real value.

    Lastly, to those in the productivity commission who produced this thought bubble… Get a real job, you bludgers !

  5. Owner

    Another great article from the Australian Journal of Propaganda!

  6. Philip Smith

    Think about what we are paid for?
    Are we paid to talk to patients? Or paid to dispense medication (with a mark up)?
    If you talk to patients you make the same money as not talking to them.
    Clinical interventions are a joke as no way to tell how much you are paid and all interventions are treated equally.

    No wonder looking from the outside it looks easy to replace us.
    Guild should of had this sorted out 2 CPAs ago.

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