Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist April 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist April 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Supermarkets frozen out
Pharmacists have been given a
commitment by the Federal Government
that the big retailers will be excluded
from the pharmacy sector.
Speaking at APP in the Gold Coast, Health
Minister Peter Dutton gave the assurance
during his keynote address.
'The Coalition will not allow the retail
giants into pharmacy,' Mr Dutton said.
However, the Minister also served notice
that the sector had to look after itself in
terms of doing business.
'Pharmacy has a bright future in this
country and the Government is intent on
securing that future,' he said.
'It has been a tough period for a number
of pharmacies over recent years.
And understandably some pharmacies
are concerned about their business
model going forward and so I want to
outline briefly some ways we can work
with the sector to ensure that future.
'I also want to outline some of the ways in
which the Government will not provide
support. We are not anti-business. Quite
the opposite, But we want business,
including your sector to grow and be
profitable in your own right. Yes the
Government is open again for business,
but not at any cost.'
Mr Dutton said that in approaching
negotiations for 6CPA, the Government's
starting point was that pharmacy was a
cornerstone to the delivery of not just
medications but also patient care.
'Pharmacy has evolved and adapted
over generations, but so has every small
business,' he said.
'Change management and risk for any
small business person has always been
a part of that model. I can help you
with that risk so far as your interaction
with government is concerned.
But risks otherwise are a natural part of
Mr Dutton said pharmacy occupied a
unique status in the level of trust 'we
place in each and every one of you to
dispense an essential medical service.
'We have a well-balanced model in
Australia which should be preserved.
We can't regulate risk, nor can we
underwrite financial arrangements.
We can't pay a subsidy to staff.
'Pharmacists should receive fair
and proper return on their capital
investments. I am open to discussion
on an agreement that pays for tangible
services and interventions that will
provide better patient outcomes.
'We are spending as a nation about
$120 a week on every man woman and
child. Our objective is your objective
-- to deliver better and more positive
health outcomes for all Australians'.
Changes to Agreement
Changes to medication review
programs, including caps on some
services, had been a tough decision
to make, National President of the
Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, said.
'The truth is however that we had no
choice, given that the Government
insisted that the limited budgets for
these services had to be enforced.
Without such action, the money would
have run out well before the end of the
Agreement, and the services would have
been scrapped altogether,' he said.
'I stress that the budget for these
programs has not been cut -- in fact,
in the case of HMRs, it is already
significantly higher than the original
allocation in the Agreement. By the
end of the Agreement next year, HMRs
will have received significantly more
than their original budget because of
the overspend and budget increase
which was agreed last year. The caps
are intended to ensure the services can
continue to be provided, albeit with
those necessary restrictions.'
He said that according to the most
recent data, the cap of 20 HMRs per
month would affect only a small
percentage of HMR service providers --
about 97 who were providing more than
20 HMRs a month.
'Interestingly, on the most recent
figures, the provision of HMRs is
currently dominated by business
entities other than community
pharmacy, with 63% delivered
by those non-pharmacy entities.'
Mr Tambassis said.
In relation to MedsCheck, government
figures showed most pharmacies
were doing fewer than 10 a month,
so therefore the majority would not be
affected by the new cap.
'Having said that, we recognise this
has unfortunately sent a contradictory
message to the early adopters of these
programs that somehow the Guild does
not support or encourage the transition
to remunerated professional programs,
when in fact we support them very
strongly. We were faced with no choice
but to impose the caps or see the
budget blown,' Mr Tambassis said.
'Looking ahead to the Sixth Agreement
-- we've embarked on a program of
consultation with our own members
and with a wide range of stakeholders
around the Agreement. One of the
questions we've posed to people
with an interest in the sector is
"what would success look like in the
'But as I said at the beginning, I certainly
don't want expectations to be too high
as we approach the Sixth Agreement
because the environment is tough.
In many respects we'll be banking on the
fact that the Government -- indeed both
sides of politics -- recognise the need
to keep the pharmacy network viable,
and we are certainly determined that
pharmacy viability is enhanced by any
new Agreement, not diminished.
'Part of that might be to get serious
about broadening the opportunities
for pharmacies to play a bigger part in
the health system and maximise patient
benefits. That's part of what we refer
to as pharmacy transformation which
will need to be managed in an orderly
way -- and not at the expense of proper
remuneration for pharmacy's core
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