[Sitting date: 21 June 2012. Volume:681;Page:3222. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Hon MARYAN STREET (Labour) to the
Minister of Health: Has he received any reports or correspondence regarding the Community Pharmacy Services Agreement with District Health Boards and if he has, have they caused him any concern?
Hon JO GOODHEW (Associate Minister of Health) on behalf of the
Minister of Health: Yes, he has received a number of reports and letters. Many have generally been in favour of the new agreement, but there have been some concerns around the time frame and technical details. The district health boards have been in national discussions with the pharmacy sector for over 2 years to develop this new service model. The new model will provide an increased focus on high-needs patients to ensure the best outcomes for those most in need. This also makes better use of the pharmacists’ clinical expertise in medicines management.
Hon Maryan Street: Does the Minister consider the contract that the pharmacies have been offered to be ill-conceived, potentially dangerous, and rushed, as some pharmacists consider it to be; if not, why not?
Hon JO GOODHEW: No. In fact, there has been a consultation process of over 2 years, during which there has been wide support from the sector. I can tell you that it is a complex contract of 163 pages, and having first had 1 month of consultation back in March and April—there were 500 submissions, which all addressed the concerns of that contract—the contract was then sent out electronically to the pharmacists on 1 June, and individual PDFs were sent to the pharmacies concerned on 6 June and 7 June. So, no, I do not believe either that it is ill-conceived or that there are problems with that time frame.
Hon Maryan Street: Would the Minister consider it appropriate for any service provider, including pharmacists, to sign up to a 166-page service contract they had seen only in the last week that does not specify the fee that they are to receive for their
service after 1 February next year; if not, will he call for a delay in the implementation of the contract until such time as pharmacists are clear about the professional and financial implications of the contract they are being offered?
Hon JO GOODHEW: The contracts, as I have already alluded to, were first sent out not 1 week ago but on 1 June, electronically. The hard copies of the contracts that will be signed have progressively been sent out to individual pharmacists since that time. The district health boards are working with the pharmacists individually to address any concerns they have about the financial implications of this contract to their pharmacy. But I would remind the member, yet again, that back from 26 March to 27 April this proposed contract was consulted on comprehensively. More than 500 submissions addressing the concerns of the pharmacists have been addressed. So, no, I would not agree with the member.
Hon Maryan Street: Is there any point at which he considers it useful as Minister to intervene in matters of this sort, which he would normally call operational decisions, or will he simply wait for the mistakes that the pharmacists are predicting to actually occur, and for somebody’s health to be jeopardised, before he takes an interest in this issue?
Hon JO GOODHEW: This Government is absolutely committed to this contract because we believe that it is better for pharmacists, and also for patients who have long-term conditions. The district health boards are working with individual pharmacies around the concerns. But this has been not just over the last few weeks; I will say again that this has been over quite a long period of more than 2 years spent developing this contract, and 500 submissions have been addressed, as well. I am sure the district health boards will continue to engage with the pharmacists in sorting through any of the issues that concern them.