The Labor Government’s plan to halve some patients visits to the Pharmacy has merit in principal according to the Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey, but he warns it is rushed and has consequences the government has not considered.
“Because they have not consulted with pharmacies, failed to consider the implications for community pharmacies and not anticipated the supply problems the change of policy will generate, it is likely to have a raft of unintended consequences especially for small regional pharmacies,” Mr Ramsey said.
“No consideration has been given to the role community pharmacies where they provide a raft of either unfunded or poorly funded services like visits to aged care facilities and hospitals, preparing and even delivering blister packs and the watchful eye they and their staff keep over clients between doctors visits. These services are subsidised by other parts of the business and are at risk under this new proposal.
“Changes as momentous as these should be considered as part of the next pharmacy agreement where if pharmacies are to lose income, special consideration should be given to rewarding them for the essential free and underpaid services they deliver now.
“The other issue which mystifies me give the current attention on the cost of living and its impact on low income families, is that in most cases aged pensioners will not receive any benefit at all. Currently their Safety Net is $265 which on average they probably meet in the first four months of the year, once reached all prescriptions are free.
“Under this plan it may take eight months to get to that threshold, but they will meet it regardless. The result is that currently they pay $265 a year and under the changes they will continue to pay $265.
“This means someone earning $300k a year will get a benefit while aged pensioners will not.”
Pharmacists are also warning of specific short-term drug shortages as people move to the double prescription.
“All of us would be happy to visit the pharmacy less often and pay less if our long-term medication is stable, but this policy is rushed and is likely to cause a host of problems the Government had not considered,” Mr Ramsey said.
“Like their grand and rushed announcements on aged care, electricity prices and even the Voice, we get the big announcement and the self-congratulations but with a message in fine print; don’t worry about the detail, we will sort it out later.”
Media contact: Leonie Lloyd-Smith 0417827523
May 5 2023