Australian pharmacies may start charging customers for current free services such as blood pressure checks and delivery, according to a new CommBank report.
The revenue earned by placing the price tags will be used to offset losses caused by the new 60-day split rule taking effect next month.
The new rules will allow a single prescription with medicine for 60 days instead of 30 days to be distributed in what has been described as a win for rural Australians and those struggling to afford medicine amid a cost-of-living crisis. However, it was also seen as a move made at the pharmacist’s expense.
Watch the latest news and free streaming on 7plus >>
“There are hundreds of thousands of rural Australians who drive more than 100 kilometers to see their GP or go to the pharmacy,” said Megan Belot, president of the Association of Australian Rural Doctors. “Reducing this burden will save you exponentially more money.”
It is estimated that the prescription change will free GP consultations and halve the cost of 320 common drugs for around six million Australians.
But the Coalition argues that reducing spending costs will put enormous financial pressure on pharmacies, especially those in regional areas.
Health Secretary Mark Butler said the roughly $1.2 billion in savings from spending measures over the next four years will be reinvested in community pharmacies, but it appears many pharmacists are not living up to his promises.
Pharmacists are now looking to mitigate the potential impact by passing fees on to customers, according to a CommBank Pharmacy Insights report co-authored by the University of Technology Sydney and IQVIA.
“Pharmacists are considering various strategies,” the report said.
”This includes 79.2 percent evaluating the cost of services currently provided free of charge, including delivery fees and blood pressure checks.
“More than half are also considering increasing professional services, including vaccinations and consultations.
“While some may consider reducing staff to manage costs, many more still have to work through shortages.
Southwest Sydney pharmacy owner Quinn On told The Australian that blood pressure checks cost an estimated $10 to $15, and free wound dressings and free medication delivery for regular and elderly patients will also be charged.
He also questions whether he can continue to pay to employ a midwife offering babies weighing four and a half hours a week at his pharmacy, while dealing with the effects of a 60-day change in spending.
“I get a line of people every Friday morning,” he said. “I’m now seeing if I can continue to provide that service.”
Reported peaks and valleys in pharmaceutical confidence suggest that changes in cost management, which also include the move to digital technologies, are indeed being driven by recent spending changes.
However, the report also indicates that much of the pharmaceutical strategy is in line with the growth opportunities identified by pharmacists in November last year.
– With AAP
#free #pharmacy #service #hurt #Australians