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Newcastle patients worse off under 60-Day Dispensing, says local pharmacist

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A Newcastle pharmacist is calling on local federal MP Sharon Claydon to intervene and persuade the government to rethink its 60-Day Dispensing policy.

According to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA), residents can expect shorter trading hours, less services, worsening medicine shortages and closures of chemists under the plan.

Its members also believe the program will see a $3.5 billion cut to community pharmacies, leaving millions of patients worse off after the change comes into effect on 1 September 1 this year.

Phil Dibben from Scott-Dibben Chemist at Kotara.

Phil Dibben, from Scott-Dibben Chemist at Kotara, is one who agrees with the PGA.

“This policy is going to seriously impact my patients in Newcastle,” he said.

“Because of these changes, I’m going to have to look at the hours I keep my pharmacy open and the services I provide.

“The patients that this is going to affect the most are primarily older people, who are already struggling with the rising cost of living.

“How do I tell them that I’m going to have to start charging for services I currently offer for free?

“I don’t want to be in a position of closing earlier and not being there for people when they need vital medicine and support.

“I’m asking Ms Claydon to step in and put patients first.”

PGA NSW branch president David Heffernan said the $3.5 billion cut would make it harder for people to obtain medicine, advice and services from their local pharmacist.

“If the federal government cannot provide a guarantee that no patient and no community pharmacy will be worse off under their new medicine policy, I don’t know how they expect Australians to believe that this is not a cut to healthcare,” he stated.

“We feel it will force pharmacists to make tough decisions.

“Many will have to cut back on their opening hours, meaning patients will miss out on vital medicines and health services on evenings or weekends – and some will have to close entirely.

“We welcome common-sense health reforms.

“But, at the same time, they’re asking 6,000 pharmacies to support more patients while cutting 50% of their funding.

“It just doesn’t add up.

“Department of Health data provided to the Guild shows as clear as day: the federal government is not reinvesting all the money they are cutting.

“What this means is pharmacists only have two options: cut back on hours, staff or services – or close entirely.”

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