Pharmacy bans local Council from premises

Image courtesy Junee Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down Facebook page.

The only pharmacy in Junee has shocked locals by refusing to serve local Council members and employees and their families

Earlier this week a notice appeared in the front window of the only pharmacy in Junee, a town in the NSW Riverina region.

“Due to the inaction of Junee Shire Council and its staff as of Monday the 22nd of May 2017 all councillors, executive staff and their families will not be permitted to enter the premises known as Junee Capital Chemist and all credit will be suspended until further notice,” the sign said.

According to the region’s Daily Advertiser, based in Wagga Wagga, the move meant around 200 people needed to make a roughly hour-long round trip to Wagga if they needed to access medicines.

Junee Capital Chemist owner Jane Gentle declined to comment to AJP, but mayor Neil Smith told the Advertiser that the dispute concerned a clean-up order and a request from the council for the pharmacy to improve pedestrian access.

Prime7 News reporter Sara Jones said in a news report that the Council had removed temporary fencing around the premises due to access issues, and that the pharmacy owners had demanded it be returned.

The sign has now been removed and after a meeting between Ms Gentle and Councillors the issue has now been resolved, though as of Tuesday Prime7 News claimed that the pharmacy was still refusing service to Council staff.

“Technically, closing the door to Councillors and their families doesn’t fall under the NSW anti-discrimination act,” Ms Jones said. “Yet the Junee community is up in arms.”

The issue sparked lively discussion on a local Facebook page, Junee Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down.

“Wow, is that even legal?? Must be serious for them to do that!!” wrote one local.

Another said, “To me the underlying issue is irrelevant. Denying people access to medications because they are associated with a group that you are in dispute with is unethical.”

Others defended the pharmacy.

“There must be a logical reason behind all this so we cannot judge as we don’t know what’s going on. Good on the chemist for standing their ground for whatever the reason,” said another.

It was also suggested that the dispute arose due to problems not with the existing pharmacy site, but with a new development site for the pharmacy, which is closer to the hospital and other shops.

A Fairfax poll on the Advertiser site asked whether readers felt the pharmacy had a right to refuse service to council staff and their relatives. At the time of writing, this was split almost evenly, with 49.54% of readers saying that yes, the pharmacy was within its rights.

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  1. pagophilus

    So how is that ok yet not supplying EC or termination drugs is not OK? In this case they’re discriminating against a group of people. A legal case could be mounted.

    • Willy the chemist

      There’s a vocal group that pushes the populist and politically correctness agenda and take a superiority stance like “thou shall not be a health professional”because you have different value systems.
      In as much as it may be ‘distasteful” (we don’t know the entire story), the pharmacist is within her rights to refuse entry to someone. What about someone who stole from you? And so forth.

      • pagophilus

        Speaking from someone with no knowledge of the situation – a business must comply with council decisions. Sometimes council decisions are faulty and need review, and sometimes council people are pig-headed or authoritarian. But there are better ways to deal with it. You need to play by their own rules in order to defeat them.

      • Andy Harris

        This is why we should abolish location rules. Are you a pharmacist owner stating that it is ok to refuse to supply medications to your local population because you disagree with the business they work for?

        Are pharmacist out there seriously saying this is ok?

        Do you realise that we supply medications to prisoners free of charge including hep c meds, sex change meds etc due to universal right of access to medications? But then it is ok to refuse service to someone because they know someone who upset you!

        Wow this is disgraceful!

        • Willy the chemist

          Wow disgraceful yes. But think from the angle of someone who has “skin” in the game….

          a) What if an account customer owes you $800, outstanding for over 10 months. He doesn’t pay but then started to come in to purchase items and paying cash. However he won’t pay the long overdue account nor enter into reasonable payment schedule?

          b) What about someone who fought with someone in front of your shop and push a lady through the front window, hurting her and cracking the window? What if he comes in tomorrow?

          c) What if he threatened your safety? What if he threatened your staff safety?

          d) What if someone stole from your store and when confronted ran out?

          e) What if you were working in this pharmacy and the proprietor “decide” to continue to allow this customer to visit the pharmacy, after he has harassed you? No, not him but his staff, you? Would you still advocate that this person can continue to come in and intimidate you?

          This is not saying that whatever happened is tasteful or is what I agree with. But as a modern and free country, it is legal…… we don’t have to agree with the pharmacist’s decision on denying council officers access. I think it’s dumb but then dumb isn’t illegal.

          Location rules…is infinitely bigger than this. Location Rules is there for the public good. Go to USA and see the privatised deregulated system with no location rules. But then this is for another discussion…suffice to say Australian community pharmacies are very equitably located and accessible to the public.

          PS: a, b, c and d were true cases that happened.

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