The Pharmacy Guild and the newly formed Small Pharmacy Group have started looking for ways to work together.
The group was recently asked to give a presentation to the Guild’s national council on the main issues facing Australia’s 1800 small pharmacies.
The discussions have continued via teleconferences, which have explored how small pharmacies can provide wider input into the Guild’s work.
“They definitely gave the impression that we are important,” says Katie Stott, a member of the Small Pharmacy Group steering committee.
“At this stage it’s a process of them getting to know what we want and us communicating it to them.”
The Guild says it’s committed to working closely with the group to identify ways to address the challenges facing small pharmacies.
While all pharmacies were impacted by PBS reforms, small pharmacies may not have the ability to soften the impact through front-of-shop and professional services.
“In particular, it is important to ensure that the particular issues and needs of smaller pharmacies are fully taken into account in all the Guild’s advocacy and service delivery work,” a Guild spokesperson says.
Two of the group’s main concerns are Guild fees and professional services funding for pharmacies that process fewer than 35,000 scripts a year and have a turn-over up to $1.5 million.
Here’s an update on the discussions so far:
Guild fees: The group wants Guild fees to be tiered according to pharmacy size. However, Ms Stott says this will take some time to resolve.
“We understand that it won’t be an easy change to make.”
“I think the Guild are hoping if they can provide sufficient value then small pharmacies will pay the membership fee and will be happy to do so.”
Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCPP) fees: The Guild has initially ruled out tiered fees for QCPP.
It told the group its own accreditation requirements mean it has to charge a flat fee to remain impartial.
Talks are continuing and Ms Stott recognises it won’t be an easy change to make.
“But the positive is they are talking to us about that issue,” she says.
Remuneration: The organisations are exploring the best way to fund services such as blood pressure monitoring.
But small pharmacies are keen for the Guild to lobby for one federal government payment to be allocated to each pharmacy rather than fee for service payments.