Concern chemist will stop service

Adrian Graamans.
Adrian Graamans.
Waihemo Pharmacy owner Adrian Graamans is warning customers he might stop dispensing early next month, sparking concern the community could lose the service.

Pharmacies are eyeing with trepidation a new funding model being introduced nationwide. Per-item dispensing payments to pharmacists are to be a fraction of what they are now, with patient management funding being introduced.

The Palmerston pharmacy is much closer for Waikouaiti residents than Dunedin, and it would be "devastating" to lose it, Waikouaiti resident Vicki Snoeck said.

Mr Graamans acknowledged he had put up a sign warning customers he might not sign the new dispensing contract. He hoped to know more after meeting Southern District Health Board staff today.

Roxburgh pharmacist Alastair Forbes, owner of Highland Pharmacy, said there was a lack of communication around the changes, which would see pharmacists taking more responsibility for managing patients' medications.

It was hard to work out how the changes affected income, but per-item dispensing payment would be cut dramatically, he said.

The new model would be beneficial for pharmacies with big populations to serve, and tough on smaller catchments.

"There's an interim payment [for the next two to three years] so not all pharmacies fall over at the same time."

A big talking point at present, the situation had "hamstrung" the industry, and it was hard to sell pharmacies due to the uncertainty, he said.

Mornington Pharmacy owner Keith Newton agreed it was a time of uncertainty, with many pharmacists unsure whether to take on new staff, or how to plan for the future.

He could see the logic of the changes, and said it was inevitably unsettling at the start.

Pharmacists would be supported with transitional payments while the new system was established, he said.

Asked for comment, Southern DHB sent a written statement saying the Pharmacy Services Agreement was a national contract. The DHB had held workshops discussing the changes with local pharmacists.

Add a Comment