*Speech delivered 10th May 2023.
The government wants pharmacists to dispense 60 days worth of medication at a time instead of 30 days worth.
It means patients with chronic illnesses don't have to go to the GP as often, and they'll save time and money.
It sounds good, but the Pharmacy Guild isn't so sure.
They say this could force smaller pharmacies to close on weekends, cut staff and, potentially, close down altogether. The government says this simply isn't true.
They're in a stalemate, and it's starting to get ugly.
So I've got a solution for them.
The government should commit to two years of transitional support payments for pharmacies while this change comes into effect.
Any pharmacist who is losing money as a result of this policy can apply to be reimbursed the difference by submitting their income history from the previous year and their income for this year. If there's a serious difference, then the government tops them up to what they were in 2022. After two years we review the change to prescriptions.
If the government is paying out to every pharmacist in the country, the policy is a stinker.
If nobody is receiving any payments because they're not actually losing any money, then we're all clear.
If the pharmacists are right, this policy would see them no worse off—guaranteed. If the government is right, this policy wouldn't cost them anything—guaranteed.
Pharmacists do important work. In regional areas, we rely on them to plug the gap when you need health advice. I give a shout-out to my local pharmacist, Alec. Love you! I rely on him quite a bit.
This policy will help people save time and money, but you can't make these changes without having a safety net in place.
Two years of transitional payment isn't going to bankrupt the country, and we can't afford for regional pharmacists to go under because, in the end, it will be the patients who lose out.