Pharmacists urge caution on implementation of 60-day dispensing.


Professionals Pharmacists Australia (PPA) has urged caution in relation to the implementation of 60-day medication dispensing for community pharmacies and has cited several concerns which need to be carefully considered.

We acknowledge the Federal Government’s dispensing policy provides benefits for community health and will reduce medication costs and provide greater ease of access to vital medication for community members with chronic illness.

However the potential impact of the policy on employee pharmacists requires further consideration, particularly in regional locations where communities rely heavily on their local pharmacy. We note the Federal Government has indicated that it will be investing more funding in regional pharmacy in the upcoming budget and we look forward to receiving more information about the extent and nature of the reinvestment.

Overwork remains a problem for many employee pharmacists and 60-day dispensing may also assist in alleviating unsustainable workloads for employee pharmacists that continued after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. These workloads will further increase under the Pharmacy Guild’s proposal to expand the scope of practice for community pharmacists.

Additionally, the implications of 60 day dispensing for both the employment and remuneration of employee pharmacists, one of the lowest paid professions in Australia, must also be considered.

We look forward to meetings with the federal government to discuss the concerns of our members and to hear how these can be addressed over the coming months.

We are also troubled by reports that our members have been approached to join the Pharmacy Guild’s campaign against the dispensing policy on the basis they will lose their jobs. Employees have the right to abstain from political campaigns and if you feel you are being pressured to participate, please contact us for advice and support.

Protest action

Professional Pharmacists Australia recognises that employee pharmacists have personal opinions about the changes to the dispensing policy that were announced today by the Federal Minister for Health.

We have received enquiries from both members and non-members who have expressed concerns about being approached to join the Pharmacy Guild campaign on the basis that they could lose their jobs as a result of the changes.

We object to employee pharmacists feeling pressured to take part in the Pharmacy Guild’s campaign and as employees you have the right to abstain from political campaigns.

Make sure you are aware of your rights if you are approached to join the Guild’s campaign:

  1. Ascertain if you are being required and directed to take specific actions as an employee or whether you are being invited to join in, which you are free to accept or not. Depending on the nature of the action which you are being directed to undertake, it may not be lawful for the employer to be issuing that direction.

  2. Any members who feel they are being coerced, manipulated or threatened into joining such action should contact PPA immediately. Actions you may not wish to be involved in include use of your images, social media accounts, media interviews and public protest actions including sharing surveys and petitions.

  3. Lobbying about this change to patients as a registered pharmacist whilst working or even in your own time including though social media, potentially could fall within unprofessional conduct as per the standards developed by AHPRA. You should take this account before becoming engaged in such activity and we encourage members to get in touch with PPA to discuss this more fully.

  4. It will depend on the specific circumstances but a closure of a pharmacy for a proposed stop work activity instigated by the employer does not alter your entitlement to pay for that time whether you attend the protest or not.

  5. Any action on a proposed on a public holiday would be paid as per your normal entitlements. Subject to your specific contractual entitlements, if that public holiday is one of your regular shifts if employed in a part-time position you are entitled to receive your full pay for that day as well as pay for any hours of protest activity by your employer. The same applies to any other penalty or normal work hours as per the National Employment Standards and the Pharmacy Industry Award.