The direction taken by the King Review looks like a calculated attempt to dismantle the current community pharmacy model, says Guild executive director David Quilty.
In this week’s edition of Forefront, Mr Quilty takes aim at the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation, saying it’s bad for almost everyone involved.
“The direction laid down by the Review is bad for patients, bad for the pharmacist profession, bad for the broader community pharmacy workforce, bad for the medicines sector, and bad for Australia’s 5,600 community pharmacies which have helped make the PBS the most fiscally sustainable part of the entire health system,” Mr Quilty writes.
“The Review has not produced the evidence to demonstrate how a pricing regime that is used to regulate access to big electricity, gas and telecoms utility networks could somehow be applied to 5,600 small businesses in the health sector to the benefit of patients.
“Its prescription for the future has all the hallmarks of a calculated attempt to dismantle a community pharmacy model that works well and enjoys the overwhelming support of the Australian public, while reducing even further what the Federal Government pays a sector already struggling with cuts that will see PBS expenditure fall by more than 10% in real terms over the next four years.”
The direction taken in the King Review interim paper also “ignores or misunderstands” global health care trends, he says, as it would narrow the role of community pharmacies, rather than taking an integrated, patient-centred approach to health.
This would also commoditise safe, professional medicine dispensing.
“One must ask what community pharmacies, the pharmacist profession and patients have done to warrant being subjected to such a radical and untested approach?”
Mr Quilty says that the review is a strong reminder to all involved in pharmacy that planning for the future is vital to safeguard the sector.
“We cannot afford to blithely sit back and hope the future will look after itself or that we can outsource it to some third party.
“The community pharmacy sector is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation transformation and can no longer rely on the PBS in the same way it has done in the past.
“Governments want maximum value for money and will direct their finite taxpayers’ dollars to providers that deliver the best and most cost-effective outcomes for patients.”
Trends such as the ageing population, the growth of chronic disease, technology uptake, increased consumer expectations and evolution of the profession all need to be taken into account, Mr Quilty writes.
“As leaders, we must understand these trends and lay down a pathway that will secure the future of the sector and the profession by focusing first and foremost on meeting the needs of patients.
“This is a whole-of-sector challenge, requiring whole-of-sector input, collaboration and buy-in.
“With the next community pharmacy agreement negotiation already looming, the need to plan for and secure the future of community pharmacy to 2025 and beyond is upon us.
“All of us who work so hard for and believe so passionately in community pharmacy and the pharmacist profession need to be working together to take control of this shared destiny.”