‘We need to change the way we run our pharmacies.’


Postie on motorbike holding Express Post package
Image courtesy Australia Post.

The Pharmacy Guild has offered advice regarding Australia Post’s new pharmacy home delivery option

Over the weekend the Federal Government announced that it would allocate $25 million to fund home medicine services in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, after which Australia Post announced the launch of its Pharmacy Home Delivery Service.

“From Monday, pharmacies around the country can offer free delivery on prescriptions to their customers and take advantage of the recently announced increased Australian Government rebate and Australia Post’s unrivalled national network,” Australia Post said in a statement.

“The initiative incorporates Australia Post’s contactless delivery in line with current Covid-19 guidelines.

“The new delivery option will support vulnerable Australians, including those isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, people over 70 and people with chronic health conditions.

“The initiative has been developed in association with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and allows vulnerable members of the community to receive medication and other essential supplies (under 500grams) through Australia Post’s Express Post network, once a month, and pharmacies can receive the full cost back through government rebate.”

Deliveries can be made to the home, or to a local Post Office or 24/7 Parcel Locker for pick-up.

Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis appeared in mainstream media including radio 2SM on Monday morning to explain the new service to listeners.

“We’re already seeing increased demand from patients: elderly, not-so-elderly, people with comorbidities – people who just can’t get out of the home or maybe their carers are too busy – are already ringing pharmacies up and emailing us and texting us, and saying, ‘Can we please have our medicines delivered from now on?’” Mr Tambassis told 2SM.

“And we need to change the way we run our pharmacies, it’s as simple as that, because it’s a new world now.”

He explained that the general public can utilise the service monthly.

“It’s once a month, so you’ve got to organise yourself, so whatever your PBS medicine is, you’ll always get once a month dispensing for those medicines anyway, if you can organise yourself and ask to get all your monthly medicines delivered to you on a monthly basis, you’ll be able to take advantage of… the Australian Government’s announcement.”

If patients need more deliveries per month, this can be arranged with prices and availability depending on factors such as the way a pharmacy runs its business, distance to the pharmacy and customer loyalty, Mr Tambassis advised listeners, adding that “a lot of pharmacies won’t charge for the extra deliveries anyway”.

He advised listeners that when ordering a delivery that weighs more than 500g, they should speak to their pharmacy to discuss options.

Mr Tambassis also asked patients to “look after your local pharmacy and we’ll look after you,” saying “we’re all in this together”.

He asked them to be patient if visiting pharmacies, around the need to enforce personal space and self-distancing regulations; and to consider flu vaccination in April.

In an alert to members, the Pharmacy Guild noted that it had been in negotiations with Australia Post over the offer.

“Australia Post will from Monday, offer pharmacies a postal medicine delivery service,” said the Guild.

“The Australia Post offer will provide our members with another option to support our vulnerable Australians, including those isolating themselves at home.

“The starting price to pharmacy is $7.77 for up to 500g via Express Post, with the price tiered according to weight.

“The cost of $7.77 is aligned to the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Home Medicines Service Program that provides eligible pharmacies with a fee of $7.77 per delivery for the home delivery of PBS/RPBS medicines to eligible patients once per month.

“The Guild is continuing to work with Australia Post to ensure the solution is appropriate for members and can be implemented quickly. 

“Through the Australia Post arrangements, pharmacies will be able to create an online MyPost account, create and print labels and post the package via a Yellow Post Box or the Post Office.

“Customers will receive delivery notifications to help them track the progress of their delivery – and pharmacies will be able to check the delivery status of the parcel through the MyPost Business dashboard. 

“Customers will receive delivery notifications to help them track the progress of their delivery and the pharmacy business will be able to check the delivery status of parcels through the MyPost Business dashboard.”

For further information on this service, pharmacists can contact Australia Post via pharmacysupport@auspost.com.au.

Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, said coronavirus is having a significant impact on the lives of all Australians and making home delivery quick and easy for local pharmacies is vital.

“We know so many people rely on their local pharmacy for essential medication, particularly the vulnerable and elderly who may not be able to visit their local store. Making delivery to people’s home is critical at this time,” Ms Holgate said.

“We also understand the challenges facing small business at the moment and we have designed a simple system that will allow pharmacies to offer Express Post delivery to their customers from Monday, allowing them to continue to trade.”

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5 Comments

  1. Michael Ortiz
    31/03/2020

    Am I missing something?

    Australia Post will charge Community Pharmacies $7.77 per package and Community Pharmacies will get paid $7.77 by the PBS to deliver this medication.

    Pharmacies will need to pack up this medication and complete the following documentation:
    a. Section 90 number at the time of the provision of the Home Medicines Service;
    b. Identifier of Registered Pharmacist who dispensed the medication(s)
    (e.g. AHPRA registration number);
    c. Identifier of person undertaking the delivery (full name);
    d. How the delivery person complied with the current sanitary and isolation protocols
    relevant to the containment and management of COVID-19 within the community;
    e. Consent from the Patient – either in writing or verbally with a declaration by the
    dispensing pharmacist that they have obtained verbal consent;
    f. Patient’s name and address;
    g. Patient’s Medicare/DVA Card number;
    h. Which of the eligibility criteria in Clause 3.2 applies to this Patient; and
    i. List of all PBS/RPBS prescription medicines delivered to the Patient each time a
    delivery was made.
    This information must be retained by the Service Provider for seven years to support any claim for payment made under these Program Rules.

    Government seems to be taking advantage of Community Pharmacists concern for patients isolated in their homes. Why would any business spend the time completing all the Government documentation, pack their product securely, take the package to the Post Office and complete all the Australia Post documentation in order to recover a $7.77 delivery charge??

    Do our Bureaucrats in Canberra live on a different planet??? One needs to question whether these Bureaucrats see any value in pharmacists’ contribution to supporting patients during the Covid19 crisis. Common sense would suggest that Government pay Australia Post directly and pay Pharmacies for packaging and completing the documentation. Please don’t treat overworked pharmacy staff as unpaid public servants.

    • Paul Sapardanis
      31/03/2020

      No Michael Aus post knows that we will do all this work for free because thats how dumb we are. eg. NDSS. Do it yourself

  2. Bruce ANNABEL
    31/03/2020

    Apart from the financial aspect external sub contracted Commercial delivery providers are not, in my recent experience, acceptable to owners for control, consistency and flexibility reasons. And I understand there are limits on what these contractors can deliver. Pharmacy owners I find offer free delivery services within a certain radius which is highly valued by patients which has become more so right now and that will increase quickly. Pharmacy must look at how they cater for that demand while maintaining control through to the patient. And the compliance costs listed by AusPost makes the process much more complicated and convoluted.

    • Geoffrey Timbs
      02/04/2020

      Agree entirely, Australia Post or Uber via MedAdvisor may be acceptable short-term but not reasonable ongoing for many deliveries- in the past we had pharmacists do some deliveries due to complexity. Kudos to the Guild and Govt for getting some remuneration for deliveries to assist during this crisis but again it is inadequate as an ongoing program- biggest issues are inadequate funding if AP takes the full fee with no funding for the Pharmacy’s administrative cost, too much admin, only once a month ( – more complexity-inadequate for anyone on an SN card or getting DAAs delivered), cannot charge any extra per delivery to cover additional costs.

  3. Magna Graeca
    31/03/2020

    They needed to change pharmacies way before the pandemic. In North America, there is no equivalent to a pharmacy guild. Pharmacist have prescribing rights ( eg champix, buproprion, antibiotics etc), we can renew prescriptions, we can change and adapt prescriptions (without contacting prescriber), we can order diagnostic tests, perform all vaccinations and write prescriptions for some or all vaccines. We have registered technicians who lessen our work load such as checking prescriptions and webster packs. And finally we get paid more than our colleagues in Australia. It is no doubt that Australian pharmacists can do all of the above and get compensated for it but it is the Guild that is the main barrier to all of this. Also, we have electronic scripts for many years now and there is no need to send an “original”. Thus, if a patient needs their meds and they are on the other side of the country, all you have to do is click the option in the dispensing program which will automatically fax the script to that pharmacy and the repeats.

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