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Chemists rally in support of dispensing fees

ChemmartTerry White Chemists, Chemmart and Chemplus pharmacies have called on the sector regulator to support the current funding system in place for dispensing medicine, also calling for recognition of the role pharmacists play in providing health care services.

In their combined submission to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation, the group – representing some 500 community pharmacies across Australia – argues that the cross-subsidy inherent in the dispensing fee supports the targeted delivery of a broad range of services that would cost more under the fee-for-service model.

“Dispensing medicines and providing meaningful pharmacy services is not ‘ordinary commerce’, and the current system needs to be enhanced – not destroyed,” said Anthony White, CEO of Terry White Group.

“It underpins patient-centric care provided by pharmacists to patients across Australia. It is the bedrock of a system that not only delivers great outcomes for patients but also great value to government.

“The role Australia’s network of accredited community pharmacies plays in providing health care services should be recognised and the roadblocks to broadening their health care role should be removed.”

The group’s submission includes case studies provided by pharmacists from across the group, which they say demonstrate how their level of patient care goes beyond the dispensary every day.

The submission also argues that the Pharmacy Board of Australia should be empowered to actively monitor compliance with their Guidelines for Proprietor Pharmacists, to address concerns that pharmacies could take advantage of the cross-subsidy and further lift standards of patient care.

“With the weight of 500 Terry White Chemists, Chemmart and Chemplus pharmacies behind this submission, the Review will hear a compelling message from a united group,” White said.

Among the recommendations is that current services are maintained and that new fees are introduced for evidence-based professional services that will deliver greater choice and value.

The group also said a broad range of immunisation services are currently not available in pharmacies and some medicines could be provided to consumers without a GP script if the rules ‘were relaxed’ and appropriate pharmacy protocols developed.

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