The annual Pharmacy Groups Symposium was held in Melbourne for the second time on 21 and 22 November 2023.
As the premier pharmacy group event, the Pharmacy Groups Symposium hosted over 110 representatives from across Australia, employing over 57,000 Australians across 5,000 primary healthcare locations.
Representatives were joined by academics, subject matter experts, key industry figures and the Hon Jacinta Allen MP – Premier of Victoria, Steven Armstrong – Chief Economist from the World Pharmacy Council and Professor Mark Cormack – Independent Reviewer – Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce report who spoke about the challenges and opportunities ahead for community pharmacy.
All Pharmacy Groups Symposium presenters and participants thanked community pharmacists and pharmacy assistants for their outstanding efforts serving patients in the face of extraordinary pressure on our primary health care system, where patients are struggling to access appointments with general practitioners and pay for their medicines.
Recent ABS data shows nearly 1.1 million Australians either delayed or didn’t get their required prescription medication because of the cost in the 2022-23 financial year.This follows revelations that inflation will cause the maximum co-payment for non-concessional card holders to increase on January 1 by $1.60.
The main themes of the Pharmacy Groups Symposium were:
• The importance of dispensing as a core professional service,
• The impact of 60 day dispensing on patient services,
• Full scope of pharmacy practice,
• Community Pharmacy Agreements, and
• Workforce and the changing nature of being a Community Pharmacist.
The Pharmacy Groups Symposium recognised that the Commonwealth Government has identified that there is a better way to deliver reform in the Community Pharmacy profession and has entered negotiations for the Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement. The Symposium stated its desire to see an Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement which sees services restored to patients, ensures the viability and sustainability of the entire community pharmacy network, and sees lower prices for patients through the reduction of the general patient co-payment to $19.
The Commonwealth Government’s core promise of a 1 March 2024 commencement of the Eighth Community Pharmacy Agreement was noted by Symposium attendees. The whole industry intends to hold the Government to its commitment.
The Pharmacy Groups Symposium also stated its support for the current location rules, which guarantee the equitable distribution of access to PBS medications across the country.
The Pharmacy Groups Symposium has affirmed its support for community pharmacists working to their full scope of practice and welcomed recent announcements in South Australia and other jurisdictions. With more work to be done, the Symposium looks forward to state and territory governments harmonising community pharmacist scope of practice in line with the statewide pilots being rolled out in Queensland and New South Wales.
Attendees urged Governments to consider the UK Government’s recent announcement of funding support for community pharmacies transitioning to full scope of practice, to speed
up the transition and deliver greater access for patients.
Focusing on patient care and the ongoing evolution of community pharmacy practice, the Pharmacy Groups Symposium affirmed its desire to see professional programs take the form of brief, standard and long consultations to assist pharmacists in better meeting the needs of their patients. The Symposium endorsed the same job, same pay position of the profession to ensure the adequate recognition of key clinical skills and training.
The Symposium recognised and celebrated the breadth and diversity of the community pharmacy industry, its people, its brands, its independents, its wholesalers, technology vendors and everyone who makes expert patient care possible.
The third annual Pharmacy Groups Symposium will be held in Sydney on 28-30 October 2024.