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Pharmacy sector in crisis, say Greens

Pharmacy sector in crisis, say Greens

The Pharmacy sector is in crisis as a result of a 20-month delay in implementing a new Pharmacy services contract, Green Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

Ms Kedgley said pharmacies are totally reliant on the service contract. The pharmaceutical dispensing fee set out in the contract pays pharmacists for the safe dispensing of subsidised medicines to the public.

In parliament Ms Kedgley tabled a letter the Pharmacy Guild has sent to all District Health Board members in New Zealand, which says that the pharmacy sector is 'at the end of its tether and about to explode.'

Ms Kedgley said there was a very real prospect of even further delays because some District Health Boards are refusing to implement the contract, claiming they don't have sufficient funds to pay for the increase in volumes of medicines subsidised by the pharmaceutical budget and the pharmacists' dispensing fee.

"I understand the Boards claim they don't have the funds to pay for the increasing demand for pharmaceuticals, and therefore won't implement the new contract," Ms Kedgley said. "If this is the case, then the Minister of Health needs to step in to ensure additional funding is provided.

"The entire pharmaceutical sector should not be plunged into crisis because of DHB shortfalls in funding."

Ms Kedgley also wanted to know why it was that a negotiated disputes resolution process to resolve the funding dispute, conducted by the Hon. David Caygill and completed in November last year, had still not been implemented.

"The disputes resolution process established the basis for a new agreement that was to commence on 1 January 2002. I want to know why this has not happened."

Ms Kedgley said she was extremely concerned by the Guild's statement that the delays were putting pharmacy services and patients at risk.

"Clearly, any further delays in implementing the contract would be devastating for the sector and could jeopardise patient safety."

Ms Kedgley called on the Minister of Health to end the crisis by requiring all DHB's to implement the new Pharmacy service contract immediately.

Sue will speak on this in the General Debate this afternoon - slot number five, speech available on request

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