A new Community Pharmacy Agreement has been hailed a big win for Tasmania's rural and remote pharmacies and a big step towards ensuring their viability.
Taking effect from July 1, under the agreement the federal government will provide $18.3 billion over five years for the dispensing of subsidised medicines, management programs and services.
Signed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and for the first time the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, a key objective of the agreement is to ensure patients can still get prescription medications assessed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from a community chemist.
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PGA Tasmania branch president John Dowling said the agreement would see increased investment in regional, rural and remote areas and further strengthen the role of Tasmania's 150 community pharmacies within the broader health system.
"You never get everything you want and we certainly would have liked to get some extra funding to deliver more community pharmacy programs, but under the current situation with COVID we understand there's not a heap of extra money going around," he said.
"The federal health minister's job is to get the best and cheapest deal possible. Our job is to try and keep a viable community pharmacy network. We are not trying to take jobs away from GPs. It's about trying to get pharmacists to work to their full scope of practice to help make the health system as efficient as possible."
The elderly, people with chronic conditions and concession card holders are expected to benefit from improved community pharmacy medication management and adherence programs.
The government has also committed to working to support the adoption of a nationally consistent approach to vaccinations available through community pharmacies.
Mr Dowling said the challenges of COVID-19 had further highlighted the role community pharmacists play, particularly in times of peak demand.
"We've had a huge flu vaccine season, with 90,000 delivered in community pharmacies in Tasmania. Continued dispensing came in through this [COVID] period also, So, where people have found it difficult to see their GP and they come into us, we've been allowed to give them an extra month's supply of medication for chronic conditions."
Bass Liberal MRH Bridget Archer, who helped advocate for the terms of the agreement, said she was pleased to see it come to fruition "as it provides certainty for community pharmacies and the vital services they provide".
"I am pleased to see this agreement come to fruition as it provides certainty for community pharmacies and the vital services they provide.
"Community pharmacies have played a central role in supporting their community during the recent bushfires and have been critical in supporting people during the COVID-19 pandemic -they are the unsung heroes of the health community."
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