Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his support for community pharmacy in a letter to the Pharmacy Guild.
He says a returned Coalition government would ensure funds allocated under the Pharmacy Trial Program and 6CPA will deliver the best health outcomes.
The PM says the Coalition supports the current model of pharmacy ownership, and supports reforms that will allow pharmacists to take on a greater role in allied health.
Mr Turnbull says that the Coalition is “proud Australia’s community pharmacy sector is considered world-leading.
“It is a truly public-private partnership that is underwritten by the capital investments made by small business pharmacy owners around Australia and the commitment and hard work of their staff.
“The Coalition continues to support the model of pharmacies being owned by pharmacists to ensure community pharmacy remains focused on the needs of patients.”
The PM highlighted the signing last year of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, which he says is a “major achievement” and a “sound blueprint for the pharmacy sector for the next five years”.
Importantly, he said that “A returned Turnbull Government will ensure that the $50 million in the Pharmacy Trial Program and the $600 million in the Agreement for new and expanded professional services deliver the very best evidence-based health outcomes for patients through the community pharmacy network”.
Movement on the first tranche of 6CPA professional service trial programs has been slow.
“The Coalition supports reforms that allow expansion of the role of pharmacists as a key member of a patient’s ‘medical team’ and looks forward to working with the sector to develop new and innovative trials which will realise the full potential of community pharmacy to manage a patients’s health care needs.”
The PM also referenced the Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation Review, which is currently underway and chaired by Professor Stephen King.
Prof King advised the industry after the July 2 election was called that no findings would be announced until after the caretaker period ended.
“The Review upholds the clear commitment the Coalition made during negotiations of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement to ensure dollars invested in pharmacies reflect ‘value-for-money’ and that the sector is working efficiently, effectively and remains viable to meet the needs of consumers.
“The Review is an opportunity to identify ways in which community pharmacies and their professional staff can contribute to a more integrated and patient-focused approach to health care. In particular, the Coalition sees an integral role for pharmacists in the broader primary care reforms currently underway in the health portfolio.
“The Independent Review will make its recommendations, but any policy changes are always a matter for Government.
“The Coalition encourages community pharmacies to engage closely as these reforms progress to ensure that pharmacies are a key player in delivering new and improved health outcomes for consumers.”
The Coalition is committed to supporting pharmacies through its small business reforms, he says.
Mr Turnbull also highlighted the landmark $1 billion listing for Hepatitis C medicines on the PBS, which “has the potential to eradicate Hepatitis C as a public health concern within a generation”.
He says a re-elected Coalition will continue to work with the Guild to identify a solution to improve QUM under the RAAHS program and ensure appropriate remuneration by reallocating funding under the 6CPA.
“During each Federal Election campaign, the Guild invites all political Parties to submit letters of support for community pharmacy for distribution to Members so that pharmacy owners can be aware of where the Parties stand on a range of pharmacy issues,” says a spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
“The Prime Minister has confirmed that the Coalition continues to support the model of pharmacies being owned by pharmacists.
“We also draw attention to the Prime Minister’s words on the Pharmacy Trial program, expansion of the role of pharmacists, and the Government’s approach to the Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation Review.”
The PM’s letter is publicly available on the Guild’s website.