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Prescription prices rise as Govt underfunds

Judith Collins National Associate Health Spokesperson

27 December 2002

Prescription prices rise as Govt underfunds pharmacies

Some New Zealanders face rising prescription costs because their district health board has rejected a new pharmacy services contract being negotiated between the Government and pharmacists, says National Associate Health Spokesperson Judith Collins.

The Ministry of Health, district health boards (DHBs) and pharmacists have been negotiating the contract for two years, but six of the country's 21 DHBs have rejected it.

"Patients are already being advised they will face higher prescription charges, depending on where they live and whether their DHB is part of the contract.

"Some Aucklanders have been told their charges will increase because their DHB is reducing the medicine benefit after rejecting the contract. DHBs are rejecting the contract because it won't fund them enough to service their clients," Ms Collins said.

The boards that have rejected the contract include, Northland, Hawkes Bay, South Canterbury, Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitemata.

"People purchasing pharmacy medicines in these areas are likely to face increased charges.

"Pharmacies are in crisis. They say there is a shortage of pharmacists because they can't afford to pay competitive rates. Pharmacies are paying to train pharmacists who then go to the UK and Australia for better pay.

"These problems are occurring because the system for funding pharmacies is wrong.

"National believes an independent contract model is the way to achieve national consistency with contracts and avoid these problems that are forcing the cost of prescription medicines up and causing recruitment problems. There should be one agency rather than 21 negotiating," said Judith Collins.


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