Yes Minister, again

Greg Hunt to retain Health portfolio as pharmacy enters 7CPA negotiations

Incumbent Health Minister Greg Hunt has retained the portfolio as reelected Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed his new cabinet on the weekend.

“As Minister for Health, Greg Hunt will lead the charge on mental health, in particular combating youth suicide. In coming months he will lead an implementation forum of the nation’s experts to deliver on the government’s youth and Indigenous mental health initiatives,” Mr Morrison said in a release.

Pharmacy leaders congratulated Mr Hunt on his reappointment, with the National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, saying the reappointment ensured Mr Hunt’s experience and knowledge of the pharmacy sector would continue to be utilised during what is a challenging time ahead.

“We are heading into the negotiating period for the next Community Pharmacy Agreement and it is invaluable that we have a Minister who has such a deep and positive understanding of the role community pharmacies play across the country.” 

Mr Tambassis said Mr Hunt and Prime Minister Morrison had pledged support for community pharmacy in a letter written to the Guild during the election campaign.

“That letter highlights our role as health professionals while also acknowledging community pharmacies are small businesses which face all the issues of other small business across Australia,” he said.

“There are some issues which we need to address such as replacing the $1 discount with a universal $1 drop in prescription prices, and also working towards enabling pharmacists to work to their full scope of practice.

PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman said his organisation “has an excellent working relationship with Minister Hunt and looks forward to continuing to work with him and the Morrison Government to make full use of pharmacists’ expertise and clinical training… “.

“PSA welcomed Minister Hunt’s commitment on behalf of the Government that they will declare quality use of medicines and medicines safety a National Health Priority Area. This is a vital step forward in addressing the alarming issue of medicine-related harm.

“We therefore appreciate the commitment from Minister Hunt that PSA will be a signatory to the upcoming 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement. PSA will be focused on ensuring that there is more funding allocated to expanding services delivered by pharmacists, addressing accessibility to primary healthcare, and improved medicines management,” Dr Freeman said.

Senator Richard Colbeck has been appointed as Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, with a secondary portfolio as Minister for Youth and Sport.

Mr Tambassis added congratulations to Ken Wyatt on his appointment as Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

“Community pharmacies play a pivotal role in providing medicines and health services to Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people and I look forward to discussing with the new Minister how we can further improve access to community pharmacy services for these communities,” he said. 

Small business, another portfolio of interest to community pharmacy, will fall under the auspices of Senator Michaelia Cash who has been made Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.

Former Minister for Health Susaan Ley has returned to cabinet as Minister for the Environment.

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