‘The time is now to get rural right.’

Call for all parties to the 7CPA to give rural issues a priority

While frontline pharmacists battle coronavirus panic, the Rural Pharmacy Network Australia is urging all parties to the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement to ensure that rural issues are given the priority they require and are not overshadowed by the current crisis.

“If it wasn’t already evident before, COVID-19 has well and truly exposed the lack of equity in Australia’s pharmaceutical distribution system,” says RPNA.

RPNA members have reported serious medication shortages in recent months including stock unavailability, orders cancelled by wholesalers without explanation and missing deliveries of PBS medicines.

“It is not just our distribution system that’s flawed,” continues RPNA. “The whole pharmacy remuneration system is geared towards maximising dispensing volume at the expense of quality care.

“What rural patients need more than anything else is equity – not just equity of access to medicines, but equity in terms of pharmaceutical care.”

The rural pharmacists’ group argues that successive Community Pharmacy Agreements have not adequately recognised the challenges of delivering pharmaceutical care and services to disadvantaged patients.

“This includes the higher per patient workload and associated costs, as well as a lack of flexibility in service funding models to meet patient need,” they say.

“It is vital that the 7CPA addresses these issues. This will involve significant additional investment as well as reform to service funding models.

“It looks as if reform of the Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance program (RPMA) is on finally on the cards.”

The RPMA consists of a monthly allowance paid to eligible proprietors in recognition of the additional financial burden of maintaining a pharmacy in rural and remote areas of Australia.

“This is welcome news but it is just a start and is only one aspect of what is required,” say RPNA.

“The time is now to get rural right and ensure that rural patients can access the pharmaceutical care they need and deserve.”

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