While community pharmacy is on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, the sector is still waiting for ongoing financial support from the government.
Community pharmacy plays a crucial role in primary health care. Community pharmacies are required to remain open at all alert levels due to the essential services they provide, including access to medicines, expert health and wellbeing advice, and services such as administering flu vaccines.
“For community pharmacies to continue performing their vital role for patients, it is critical to ensure that the sector has ongoing stability and financial sustainability during these extraordinary times and into the future,” explained Pharmacy Guild of
New Zealand Chief Executive, Andrew Gaudin.
“However, given the reduced revenues and increased costs they are facing, many community pharmacies could be forced to close, leaving communities without vital access to pharmacy services and putting pressure on the wider health system.”
The Guild has also highlighted the struggle many pharmacies are experiencing collecting the pharmaceutical co-payment, or the government’s $5 patient charge, something which the Guild strongly believes needs to be removed.
“Removing the co-payment will improve equity and wellbeing outcomes for all New Zealanders, which will help keep people well and out of hospital at this critical time, while also helping deliver a more stable and sustainable community pharmacy sector,” noted Gaudin.
The Guild, and its members, strongly believe that government funding is urgently required to address the ongoing viability of community pharmacies to enable them to remain open to provide essential pharmacy services to all New Zealanders.
If community pharmacies are forced to close, a vital piece of the primary health care sector will be gone. Patients will miss out on expert care from their local pharmacy and the community will lose a vital link to the health sector.