I came across several articles in the papers this morning about the Albanese Government’s proposed 60-day dispensing policy.
Recommended in 2018 by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, this policy would apply to over 300 medicines and is due to be announced in the upcoming federal budget.
It means that customers would be able to get two months worth of medication from each script, effectively cutting visits to the local pharmacy in half.
Over the last week, I have heard from pharmacies across my electorate about this policy.
They are concerned about the impact this will have on their businesses, their employees, and most importantly their customers.
It will cost jobs, and worse than that – it will force community pharmacies across Australia to shut their doors.
Regional Australia is facing a GP crisis, and we know customers are increasingly reliant on their relationships with local pharmacists for their health needs.
When someone can’t see a GP for two weeks, which is often the case in rural areas, pharmacists are there to help – from seeking help for minor ailments, to administering vaccinations at a low cost.
This policy would directly reduce the ability of pharmacists to engage with customers on these services nationwide.
Australia is facing a GP crisis alongside medicine shortages – so it is not the time to be stripping pharmacists of their vital community roles.
Health Minister Mark Butler claims that this policy is cheaper for Australians.
But the cost for regional communities will be devastating.
That’s just as I see it.