Pharmacy needs to make the case that it should remain viable because it delivers equitable community healthcare, Nick Panayiaris, SA Guild president, told the Friendlies’ Conference in Adelaide.
He told delegates that 6CPA negotiations were tough and some issues have yet to be resolved such as the $1 copayment discount.
“It is documented in the Agreement that we do not support this; however we had to compromise because we were told it could be $3. And also the big stick in front of us was the Location Rules… it wasn’t fun at times.
“We held our nerves… but it was a very stressful time and there were occasions when we thought we wouldn’t achieve a 6CPA.”
Panayiaris said it would have been “carnage” if the 5CPA had been rolled over.
“Notwithstanding, it was the first time we got funds linked to CPI; we were pleasantly surprised that the government agreed to that.”
However, what the Guild learned from how it conducted talks will inform how the Guild will work on the 7CPCA, he said.
“Agreements will continue to be tough so we need to shift the debate back to health and the patient, rather than economics.”
However, he said governments tended only to think in fiscal terms so pharmacy needs to make the case it must remain viable because it delivers equitable community healthcare.
“In fact, apart from one paragraph in the entire Agreement, there is no mention of the patient or health, and it was the Guild that inserted it: that tells you where the government’s focus was.”
He said the key is to leverage community support with the patient telling MPs—at local levels—why they value pharmacy for what is does.
He described how during negotiations one Minister, who was obviously no fan of pharmacy, only began to listen when a pharmacy patient was brought along to talk to the Minister about why pharmacy was so important to them.
“The Minister’s attitude suddenly changed.
“If you don’t want to make your case about money, make it about the patient. Get the patient to be our advocate again,” said Panayiaris.
“The government doesn’t care about the patient so we have to change the commentary so the patient will lobby our case with their local MP.”