Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton has warned that the Labor Government’s planned changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) could cause unintended consequences, particularly for regional areas.
While the Labor Government claims that these planned changes will reduce costs for patients, it hasn’t weighed up the impact of this decision in its entirety. Pharmacies will be required to provide 60-day dispensing for many commonly used medications from 1 September 2023, increasing concerns about the potential for shortages and inability for pharmacies to meet demands.
“This proposed requirement for pharmacists to supply two months-worth of medications demonstrates a lack of awareness of how pharmacies operate, particularly in rural towns,” Mr Coulton said.
“Pharmacies in small towns rely on the regularity of prescriptions and contact with their customers to operate. The current system also allows them to provide extra support such as blood pressure checks, blood sugar testing and other services which make a difference for people managing chronic illnesses.
“Many pharmacists across the Parkes electorate have written to me in recent weeks expressing their concerns about sustainability and the ability to provide their services once these measures come into effect.
“The Coalition recognises that these changes are likely to impact regional areas hardest, as many of these pharmacies are family businesses and face additional challenges securing medications compared to their urban counterparts. Supply shortages are typically felt hardest in regional areas.
“My colleagues and I have called on the Labor Government to reconsider the proposed changes and their unintended consequences, especially for rural and regional locations.
“We need to support our local pharmacies, not put additional pressure on them which could result in their having to cut down the services they offer in our towns. Pharmacists are often not just a supplier of necessary medications, but that all-important human contact for isolated people with chronic health conditions.
“Allowing 60-day dispensing is not a quick-fix solution to cost-of-living pressures if it hamstrings our local pharmacies and results in medication supply shortages for our most vulnerable,” Mr Coulton said.
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