Pharmacy has five years to prove itself: Jones

rural pharmacy: pretty rural scene with gum trees and blue sky

Over the five-year life of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement community pharmacy will need to prove itself, says Paul Jones of Moodie’s Pharmacy in Bathurst, NSW.

The pharmacy was named winner in the professional services division of the Pharmacy of the Year Award 2015.

Jones welcomes the review into the location rules.

“It’s good that the location rules are being reviewed,” Jones told the AJP.

“I think some are dysfunctional and don’t deliver what was intended – for example, the medical centre one. You only need to meet the rule at a single point in time, and as soon as you get your number you can go back to trading five days a week; that was intended to try and encourage improved access to doctors and pharmacists and I don’t think it’s achieved that outcome.

“The shopping centre rule also had unintended consequences. If you have a pharmacy in a shopping centre the landlord has all the power when you come to the end of your lease. I’ve experienced that personally, and so it needs to change.

“Overall, though, the location rules are a very good piece of policy, and if you look at the report the Guild did 95% of people in capital cities were near a pharmacy, so they do ensure equity of access.”

In the Guild analysis pharmacies were shown to be more accessible than supermarkets, banks and medical centres in metropolitan and regional areas, with 87% of Australians living within 2.5km of at least one pharmacy – 95% in capital cities.

“The Agreement overall is a mixed bag,” Jones says. “I think people are fearful of change, but pharmacy has to change – you can’t keep maintaining the status quo.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about using different technology or offering different services – pharmacy has had it pretty good with discounts, but we now need to make sure the whole of pharmacy is sustainable.”

He says hits to wholesalers and manufacturers in the wider package associated with the 6CPA are of concern, with pharmacies already experiencing significant out of stock problems with some medicines.

“We need to make sure the supply chain works because if it doesn’t and the Government cuts it too much, you’ll see manufacturers doing just-in-time manufacturing. You can give people a generic, everyone switches and then they run out because they didn’t anticipate they would do that volume of the product.”

Expanded funding for professional services will go a long way to help pharmacy gain more credibility in an expanded capacity in primary health, he says.

“The focus on rural and on Aboriginal health is a hugely positive thing. Working to Close The Gap with Aboriginal people’s life expectancy is a smart move.

“And having grown up in rural and regional areas, I know rural people receive second-class services. I’m a big believer in doing something for these people.

“All the professional services will have to be signed off by MSCA and I think that’s a game changer. We’ll have to produce very good quality services, and that’s very positive.

“The other thing I don’t like [in the 6CPA] is discounting the copayment. It sends the wrong message about medicine as a commodity.

“The Government sees health care as involving consumers, not patients. But people don’t consume health care because they want to. They take it for medical reasons, it’s a need, not a want.”

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