Australia can wave goodbye to any expansion of pharmacy services unless the falling remuneration from PBS prescriptions is addressed, award-winning pharmacist tells politicians
Speaking after being honoured for his service to pharmacy at the NSW Pharmacy Guild dinner in Sydney on Thursday, Peter Feros said the Australian community pharmacy sector is in crisis due to declining PBS remuneration.
The Federal government needed to act if it wanted pharmacy to effectively deliver the health services it is capable of providing, he said.
The ongoing financial crisis in the sector was causing employed pharmacists to desert the profession, Mr Feros said, adding that “community pharmacy in Australia for years has been based on the back of slave labour of (mainly) female pharmacists, and it will not continue.
“We will not be able to deliver the healthcare services that we could unless the federal government addresses the issue of what the remuneration is for PBS dispensing”.
Mr Feros, was awarded the Guild’s Distinguished Service Award at the dinner, which was held at NSW Parliament House and attended by 20 MPs along with many leading pharmacists and healthcare, finance and pharmaceutical leaders.
In presenting the award, David Heffernan, Pharmacy Guild (NSW) president said Mr Feros was an “owner, innovator, consultant, commentator, intellect – and always very much an advocate for community pharmacy. He has always aimed to innovate across multiple formats of pharmacy and service delivery.”
Mr Feros launched a passionate defence of pharmacy ownership rules saying it was from within community pharmacy itself that computerisation of the sector began, at least a decade before computing arrived to more corporatised pharmacy environments such as the US and UK.
“The most important factors as a pharmacist are your training, your experience, your ethical responsibility, and your primary focus on the healthcare of the patient,” he said. “You don’t get these from an accountant in a corporate body”.
“I heard the politicians tonight speak about the role community pharmacy can play in healthcare. However, the way we’re going, this won’t happen as the Australian community pharmacy sector is in crisis, it’s in financial crisis because there is a monopsonous purchaser – the Australian government, which has screwed community pharmacy remuneration to a level where the viability of many individual pharmacies in in question, and more importantly we cannot afford to pay our workers a reasonable salary so they stay in the sector,” Mr Feros said.
“Unless this issue of PBS remuneration is addressed by the federal government you can forget us providing any future healthcare extended services”.