When will the mainstream media attacks end?

pharmacy worker reading newspaper

People calling for relaxation of the location rules are “motivated by self-interest and profit,” says the Guild’s leader, noting the timing

Following a number of recent mainstream media reports in which stakeholders have called for the location and ownership rules to be scrapped or loosened, Guild national president George Tambassis has hit back in a message to members.

“You will have seen in recent weeks the media coverage of calls for the relaxation of pharmacy ownership laws and location rules,” Mr Tambassis wrote late last week.

This media coverage included comment by Chemist Warehouse chief operating officer Mario Tascone, former ACCC boss Graeme Samuel, Jeff Rogut, CEO of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores, economist Leith Van Onselen and the Grattan Institute’s Dr Stephen Duckett, calling for more competition in the sector via loosening of the rules.

Last week Mr Tambassis wrote a defence of the current model of community pharmacy for the mainstream media, and followed up with a message to members – noting the timing of the flurry of media coverage.

“It is no surprise those who are making these calls are motivated by self-interest and profit – not public or community interest,” he said.

“Make no mistake, if these calls were heeded it would undermine a world-class system trusted by patients for equitable access to healthcare advice and PBS medicines.

“You can almost set your watch by the public calls to dismantle the Community Pharmacy model; it always coincides with the negotiations of the five-yearly Community Pharmacy Agreements (CPA).

“While predictable, they are unnerving for members who want certainty and stability to invest in their business and get on with the job they and their teams do best; delivering important healthcare to Australians.”

He said that the Guild has been active in the mainstream media opposing such calls for deregulation, “calling out the short sightedness and flaws in the weak arguments from those opposed to Community Pharmacies”.

“In the coming weeks and months, the Guild will be even more active in publicly putting the case of the benefits of the Community Pharmacy model, backed by thorough consumer research and findings”.

He noted the launch last week of the Guild’s new policy paper, which “will form the basis of a new focus by the Guild to convince Federal and State governments that we can work up to our full scope of practice, and forms part of our 7CPA engagement”.

“Some members ask when the negative press about location rules and ownership will end,” Mr Tambassis wrote.

“It probably won’t any time soon, because those who seek to serve their own interests will not rest until they have their way.

“But neither will the Guild. 

“Because of your support we can turn up every day, fight the good fight and advocate that pharmacists should be doing even more in the health system to our full scope of practice for the benefit of our patients.”

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