[Sitting date: 24 July 2012. Volume:682;Page:3808. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua) to the
Minister of Health: How many of New Zealand’s 947 pharmacies have signed up to the new Community Pharmacy Service agreement, and what does this mean for their patients?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health)
: I am advised all 947 pharmacies have accepted. Under the past agreement pharmacies were funded based on the number of medicines they dispensed, so dispensing medicines was it. Under the new agreement we are rewarding our skilled pharmacists for providing support and advice to patients. In particular, around 200,000 people with long-term conditions will get support to better manage their health with the support of their pharmacist. They are a highly valued part of our health workforce and the new approach means we will be able to make much
greater use of their expertise, and patients are the real winners from this big step forward in primary care for patients.
Dr Paul Hutchison: Te
Minita o Health: what other reports has he seen on this new patient-focused approach where pharmacists will better manage their patients?
Hon TONY RYALL: Although I am advised all 947 pharmacies have accepted the new approach and it is supported by the Pharmacy Guild, I saw a lone statement that the pharmacy sector was in “chaos” and that the new contracts are “ill-conceived”, and, not only that, they were—get this one—“dangerous”. Who would say this? Of course it was the New Zealand Labour Party, scaremongering again. This agreement marks a significant step forward in the delivery of pharmacy services for patients and pharmacists, and demonstrates this Government’s commitment to better, sooner, more convenient health care for New Zealanders.
Hon Maryan Street: To the Minister o Health: does he intend simply to ignore the pharmacists who say that they have signed “under duress”, that the new agreement was “problematic for rural pharmacies because of the change in funding model”, and—quoting pharmacists—that “Patient safety could be at risk … because pharmacists are being forced to focus on revenue-gathering,”; if he is not going to ignore their concerns, what does he intend to do about them?
Hon TONY RYALL: All issues have been considered as part of drawing up this agreement. What that member needs to realise is that although she spent several days in this House standing up trying to make all sorts of claims about this scheme, all 947 pharmacies have agreed. We are on track to a much better pharmacy service than that member’s failed crowd ever offered New Zealanders.
Barbara Stewart: Is the Minister aware of the many pharmacists who believe that the long-term eligibility criteria will not include the patients who need it most; if so, what is he doing to ensure the patients receive—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the member. I say particularly to the Labour front bench that the noise level is totally unfair. Barbara Stewart deserves the courtesy of being able to ask her question in a reasonable House. I accept that it is not the very front bench on the Labour side that is the cause of the problem; it is perhaps a little further back. But I would just ask—
Hon Trevor Mallard: What about on your right, Mr Speaker?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have been, if anything, a little harder on the team on the right today. The noise on my left has been a little excessive and I do want to hear Barbara Stewart’s question. Barbara Stewart, please start again.
Barbara Stewart: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Is the Minister aware of the many pharmacists who believe that the long-term eligibility criteria will not include the patients who need it most; if so, what is he doing to ensure the patients receive the funding for the care they need?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am aware that one or two have expressed that sort of concern, but we have got the Pharmacy Guild working so closely with the New Zealand health service in delivering that, that we know we are going to achieve something positive. I think the lesson to the member opposite is that although she might have had correspondence from one or two disaffected people, the vast majority of pharmacists believe the changes that are being made are appropriate. The member should actually get in behind the changes, which are going to be so positive for patients in New Zealand.