A new independent report has found up to 187 jobs and 8 pharmacies will be lost in Tasmania, and the state’s most vulnerable patients will suffer due to the Federal Government’s 60-day dispensing (60DD) policy.
The policy, which is scheduled to start on 1 September will require pharmacists to provide 60 days of medicine to the patient, while only providing 50% of the funding.
The report was conducted by renowned economist Henry Ergas AO with Tulipwood Advisory and the Relational Insights Data Lab at Griffith University and recommends the 60DD policy be delayed.
This comes as Tasmania pharmacies launch the Save Your Local Pharmacy campaign, with in-store banners, radio, digital and TV advertising to explain the facts and devastating consequences of the Federal Government’s policy.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Tasmanian Branch President Helen O’Byrne says the Federal Government policy will impact tens of thousands of Tasmanian patients.
“Tasmania has a high proportion of rural and regional centres which will be hit hard by any closures. In the town of Scamander for example, there is no GP, no bank and now the Government is cutting funding for the only pharmacy. Losing that pharmacy will devastate the town,” she said.
“While some Tasmanians will benefit from the changes, there will be a cost to everyone else. This should be a wake-up call to the Federal Government. It highlights that no consultation was undertaken and that the policy was rushed by the Department of Health with no modelling or understanding of the impact on community pharmacies and Tasmania patients.
“Unfortunately, as the new report shows, this policy will force Tasmania pharmacies to cut opening hours, including on weekends and end free services for patients such as blood pressure monitoring, home delivery of medicines and diabetes and asthma programs.”
The new independent report found:
• 8 community pharmacies in Tasmania will be forced to close.
• 187 workers in Tasmania community pharmacies will lose their jobs over the next four years.
• Community pharmacies will be forced to cut opening hours by 2.5 hours each day, on average.
• Free services like blood pressure monitoring, weight checking, home delivery of medicines and asthma monitoring will be cut.
Kelli Houlahan who runs Westbury Pharmacy in Tasmania’s north says the report’s findings reflect the situation on the ground in their community.
“I have been losing sleep trying to work out how I can minimise the impact on our community and continue to keep all staff in full employment,” she said.
“Our town has poor access to GPs, and we have a lot of elderly people who rely on us.”
The Tasmania Save Your Local Pharmacy campaign is being rolled out in every community across the state to explain the facts and devastating consequences of 60-day dispensing.
The campaign will feature advertising in community pharmacies, and across radio, digital and TV.
To have your say and learn more about the impact of 60-day dispensing, visit saveyourlocalpharmacy.com.au.
Text by: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia.