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Safety risks as pharmacists burn out

Safety risks as pharmacists burn out

National says pharmacists are so overworked and stressed out over the failure of contract negotiations that they fear making mistakes in prescriptions.

National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said after attending a meeting of pharmacists and the three district health boards, that there were safety issues around pharmacies who are yet to settle contracts with the Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitemata District Health Boards (DHBs).

"Pharmacy costs are rising but for two and a half years this contracting negotiation has been continually stalled. Pharmacists say they are working such long hours they fear dispensing mistakes because of the pressure they are under. "The three Auckland-based DHBs are in financial crisis and won't pay pharmacists the increased dispensing fee that 15 other DHBs have agreed too.

"I found out at the meeting that the Government has funded DHBs for a 5.12% increase in prescription costs, but the expected growth for the three Auckland-based DHBs is 3.8% on average. This means the DHBs are holding back money to fund their deficits.

"These boards are trying to save money at the expense of pharmacists because the Health Minister has directed them to cut their deficits.

"These problems wouldn't be happening if the Government had kept the national contract with pharmacies. "It is stupid to have 21 DHBs all negotiating separate contracts. This leads to increased bureaucracy and costs for pharmacies and the public. The Minister should keep the national contract that operated well for many years, " Dr Scott said.

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