Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist April 2012 Contents 258 Australian Pharmacist April 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Comments made by the Minister for
Health, Tanya Plibersek, at the recent
APP conference on the Gold Coast
should finally allay any lingering fears
pharmacists may have had that a Senate
inquiry into the Community Pharmacy
Agreement was imminent, or could
resurface despite the motion for its
formation being withdrawn by Greens
Senator Richard di Natale who initially
proposed the inquiry.
Since the inquiry was mooted in
November last year, it has caused
concern among pharmacists and has
been used at times as a wedge to try to
divide the profession by some people
who seemed intent on running private
PSA was criticised by some pharmacists
who were rightly concerned over the
impact any such inquiry would have on
the profession and on the professionals
within it. Unfortunately, much of their
criticism was based on misinformation
being promulgated by those who would
seek to divide the profession.
For the benefit of members who may
still be unclear of PSA's role in the
inquiry issue, I would like to take this
opportunity to clarify matters. PSA has
from the very outset been unequivocal
in saying an inquiry was not necessary.
PSA and the Guild had some issues over
the Agreement particularly over Clause
1.2.c and PSA's mandated involvement
in the professional services area which
had been ignored in some areas but
after some delays, caused in part by the
Christmas holiday break, PSA and the
Guild met in February and formed the
Professional Programs Working Group
as a vehicle to move forward together.
This group is a catalyst for the future
and consequently we at PSA increased
our intensity to lobby decision-makers
to confirm our always-held view
that any inquiry was not necessary
and if in fact if it did proceed, would
be damaging to the profession, to
the Government and to all health
consumers in Australia.
PSA CEO Liesel Wett and I -- collectively
or individually -- spoke to or visited the
offices of Laura Smyth, Health adviser
to the PM, Steve Georganas, Member
for Hindmarsh, the Chief of Staff for
the Minister for Health and a number
of senior officials at the Department of
Health and Ageing. Discussions were
also held with the Opposition and staff
of MPs. We also both visited Senator
On 13 February, Senator Di Natale
withdrew his motion for the inquiry.
Even this did not satisfy the naysayers
who claimed it was just a stalling tactic
and the inquiry would be reconvened.
However, Senator Di Natale did not
postpone his motion, he withdrew
it. Certainly he -- like any other MP or
Senator -- can at a later date put forward
a new motion for an inquiry.
But the reality is that in the current
environment, no inquiry into the
Community Pharmacy Agreement will
be held. The Opposition very early on
said it would not support an inquiry,
meaning the Greens needed the
Government's support to be able to
proceed with their motion.
Any hope of the Government
supporting the inquiry evaporated
at APP. Let me quote the Minister's
'Since I became Health Minister a lot
of pharmacists have written to me
concerned about the Government's
views on a Senate Inquiry that was
proposed by the Greens political party,
into the arrangements for the Fifth
Community Pharmacy Agreement,'
Ms Plibersek said.
'You can stop writing!
'The Government does not
support such a Senate Inquiry into
the Agreement. It is a five-year
Agreement and is only in its second
year. We believe it is delivering for
the community. Our approach is to
make sure the Agreement is properly
evaluated and to use the lessons
learned to feed into the development
of a Sixth Agreement.'
What this means is that even if a
Member or Senator decided to again
present a motion to hold an inquiry
along the lines of the one previously
mooted, it would have no chance of
going ahead. Without the support of
the Government or the Opposition, it
would not have the numbers required
for it to proceed.
The past few months have been
troubling and have added stress to
pharmacists who are already facing
a raft of professional and economic
challenges. We must now put this
behind us and move forward and
secure the future of the profession.
At PSA we look forward to building
on our established ties with the
Government, the Guild and other
stakeholders to ensure the profession
has a viable and sustainable future.
PSA will also fight to protect the
sustainability of the profession in the
long term, and in so doing protect the
livelihoods of Australia's pharmacists.
One thing that has become very clear,
overseas and in Australia, is that the
model of a pharmacy being simply a
supply mechanism for medicines is
not longer appropriate or sustainable.
We must find new roles for pharmacists
and we see targeted appropriately
remunerated professional services
being the basis from which to grow a
sustainable pharmacy profession in
the future. PSA is working vigorously
to find new roles for pharmacists and
sees targeted remunerated professional
services as being the basis from which
to grow a sustainable pharmacy
profession in the future.
The inquiry that wasn't
By Grant Kardachi
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