National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Trent Twomey said the $3.5 billion cut would impact patients and their ability to get medicine, advice and services from their local pharmacist.
“Unless the Federal Government provides a guarantee that no patient and no community pharmacy will be worse off under their new medicine policy then millions of people in every single community in Australia will be worse off,” he said.
“The Government’s $3.5 billion cut will unfortunately mean pharmacists will need to make tough decisions that will see some shut their doors and others shut on weekends, opening later in the morning or closing early in the evening and it will mean patients miss out on vital medicines and health services.
“These are unprecedented changes that will fundamentally change the way patients get medicine and access support from their local pharmacist.”
Mr Twomey said it was counterintuitive for the Federal Government to announce more support for Medicare and welcomed reform changes to the health system at the same time forcing pharmacists to cut services.
“We welcome moves by the Government to reform the health system but at the same time they are asking 6,000 pharmacies to support more patients while cutting 50 per cent of their funding, it doesn’t add up.”
“Because the Federal Government is not reinvesting all the money they are taking out, as the Department of Health data provided to the Guild shows, pharmacists only have two options – to close or reduce hours and services.”
“If the Federal Government wants to actually reinvest the money taken out, they will need to fund at least $3.5 billion back into community pharmacies over the next four years.”
The Pharmacy Guild said community pharmacies would now undertake a review of their own financial impact, including a review of hours and services that may be cut or reduced.