Initially due in March this year, the Interim Report for the King Review may be possibly released this week, says Pharmacy Guild
The Pharmacy Guild has also re-stated its position that it will “take every opportunity to demonstrate to the Panel the benefits of the existing community pharmacy model”.
The Guild says it has sought to work constructively with the three-member panel of the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation, including Chair Professor Stephen King, Ms Jo Watson (Deputy Chair of the Consumers Health Forum) and Victorian community pharmacist Bill Scott.
It also reiterates that it has expressed concern in the past about some of the Review processes including its use of “certain consultancy arrangements”, says the Guild – in reference to the Review’s procurement of Deloitte Australia.
Deloitte Australia was engaged by the Pharmacy Review to conduct a study of international pharmacy remuneration and regulation at the same time as it produced a major report that was appended to Chemist Warehouse’s submission to the Review.
“In the Guild’s view, there is a fundamental conflict of interest having an organisation working for the Review, and at the same time participating in submissions to the Review,” Guild national president George Tambassis said in late 2016.
In response to the concerns, the Department of Health released a statement saying that it was aware that Deloitte had previously undertaken work for a number of stakeholders in the community pharmacy sector.
However “as these engagements were complete, the Department did not consider this prior experience to represent an actual conflict of interest,” it said.
Deloitte argued that its engagement for the Pharmacy Review was to gather literature on community pharmacy models overseas and conduct a comparative analysis with Australian arrangements – a role which did not extend to providing recommendations or advice.
In a December 2016 communication, the Panel stated it is “keen to ensure a comprehensive process and to that end we are working to prepare an Interim Report, including draft findings and recommendations, that are evidence based and robust”.
“The Panel would also like to confirm that it has been working alone and confidentially for its formative discussions and deliberations in this period. While the Panel is provided support from the Department of Health with secretariat resources and policy expertise as required, we have deliberately kept all parties, including the Department of Health, excluded from this stage of our work,” it said.
The Pharmacy Guild maintains it will continue to represent strongly the interests of community pharmacy to the Review ahead of its Final Report, and will respond to the Interim Report based on its merits.
“We are hopeful that it will seek to address the real issues facing community pharmacy, such as the difficulties in dispensing very high-cost medicines and the optional $1 discount, but we remain concerned that it might focus on options that could put at risk the viability of what is arguably the best community pharmacy system in the world,” says the Guild.
The PSA is also calling for removal of discretionary discounting measures, and recognition and remuneration of pharmacists based on the complexity of consumer’s situation/services provided, among other things.
In its submission the Review, the PSA urged the Review panel to “carefully consider” international evidence before making any changes to community pharmacy regulations such as location and ownership rules.