Pharmacy jobs under threat
WIDE Bay pharmacists say more than 100 jobs are in jeopardy following the Federal Government's decision to alter remuneration to pharmacists under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Coral Coast Pharmacy founding partner David Holmes said on August 2 the government's Economic Statement revealed changes to the pricing of medicines under the PBS without any consultation, leaving many community pharmacies with little time to adjust.
Mr Holmes , 53, said the industry expected prices to be reduced in the coming years, but not until after the agreement between industry and the Government ended in 2015.
"On August 2 the government said, 'stuff the agreement; we are going to make it so you have your remuneration reduced every six months instead'," he said.
"They have reneged on a deal that was saving them billions of dollars out of pure greed."
Mr Holmes said the average pharmacy - including about 200 in Wide Bay - would now stand to lose about $90,000 from its bottom line.
"I don't think many businesses would survive," he said.
"Some of these pharmacies don't even make that amount in profit."
Mr Holmes said pharmacies would need to cut costs severely.
"That means cutting staff numbers and services such as deliveries and aged care services," he said.
Mr Holmes said the government set the maximum price for medicine under the scheme - pensioners pay $5.90 and general customers pay $36.10 - and the majority of customers would not see any savings.
"Of those subsidised medicines the only ones that are going to get a saving would be the general customers where it is less than the PBS maximum price," he said.
"But there are less than 5% of prescriptions that we dispense in our pharmacies that fall into that category.
"The rest of the scripts are already covered by the PBS, are already heavily subsidised by the government so pensioners for example will still pay the same $5.90."
Mr Holmes said during the recent floods in the Bundaberg, Coral Coast Pharmacies in Gin Gin stayed open long into the night so that people could access their medication in felt this was a real "slap in the face' for the local industry.
"Our pharmacists and teams worked extra hours and went above and beyond the 'every day' to assist those people who needed help from our pharmacies because they're our community and keeping them healthy is why we do what we do," he said.