An independent report, commissioned by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA), highlights the potentially disastrous consequences of the Albanese government’s new 60-day dispensing policy.
The report predicts the closure of 665 pharmacies, resulting in the loss of 20,000 jobs, and ongoing adverse effects for vulnerable patients. Additionally, it recommends delaying the policy’s implementation beyond its proposed 1 September start date to allow for proper consultation with the community and pharmacy sector.
The report was conducted by economist Henry Ergas of Tulipwood Advisory and the Relational Insights Data Lab at Griffith University, on behalf of the PGA.
The findings underscore the adverse impact the 60-day dispensing policy will have on elderly people with chronic health conditions.
It predicts the closure of 665 pharmacies, with an additional 900 pharmacies at risk of shutting down.
To deal with these closures and cost pressures, pharmacies will cut opening hours, including over weekends and end free services for patients such as blood pressure monitoring, home delivery of medicines and diabetes and asthma programs.
PGA president Trent Twomey says the independent report should be a wake-up call for the government, given its policy was announced without consultation or modelling.
“This independent report confirms the policy is catastrophic in its current form, leading to over 20,000 job losses, more than 650 pharmacies shutting, weekend opening hours drastically scaled back and millions of free services cut,” he says.
“You scratch the surface and look behind the positive headline, and you find only a small number of people benefit compared to millions of Australians who will either miss out, pay more, or have reduced services.
“We are prepared to sit down with the government and discuss the viability of 6000 community pharmacies but they must be realistic about their policy’s impact and how rushed it has been.”
The PGA says the new model amounts to a $4.5 billion cut in government funding to community pharmacies over four years.
It says the changes will disproportionally affect vulnerable communities, including the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions. Any benefit gained from this policy will be offset by reduced access to free services currently offered by pharmacies, the PGA says.
The PGA also predicts an estimated cost to the taxpayer of $2.5 billion over four years for increased hospital admissions relating to medicine mismanagement from increased medicines in the home.
It also says an increased rate of missed diagnosis due to less interaction between patients and their GPs and pharmacists is inevitable.
Are you worried about the consequences of the 60-day dispensing change? Or do the benefits outweigh the negatives? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.