Pharmacy contract in chaos as deadline looms

Monday 25 June 2012, 1:37PM
By Labour Party

900 pharmacies up and down the country are being forced to sign a contract for services this week with many not having had time to digest its contents, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Maryan Street.

“Pharmacists are essential, frontline, health service providers that New Zealanders see and rely on most, after their doctor.

“This contract, enforced by DHBs, introduces a new way of looking after people with long term conditions, such as the elderly, people with chronic illnesses and the very frail. It has potentially huge implications for the way pharmacists work and for the funding structures they work within,” Maryan Street said.

“It also has a complicated funding formula which has no figures attached to it after 1 February 2013.

“The 160+ page, three year, contract for services gives pharmacists no knowledge as to the fee they will be paid after 1 February 2013, yet must be signed by 5pm on 26 June.

“This process is causing chaos. Pharmacists across the country don’t know what they are signing up to,” Maryan Street said.

“After inadequate answers from the Associate Minister of Health in the House last week, pharmacists have urged Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, to do something.

“Tony Ryall needs to step in and tell the DHBs to take a breath here. Let them roll the existing contract over for seven months until such time as the new processes, including the IT system which supports them, as well as the funding formula and payments, can be clarified and put in place, with proper consultation.

“The Minister will no doubt defend his process but  the comments I have received from pharmacists speak for themselves:

  • There is significant concern in the sector about the new Community Pharmacy Services Agreement. A lot of that concern focuses on process and the consultation…..What is more alarming is the complete failure to cater to the high needs communities. It threatens patient safety.
  • I feel patient safety will be compromised and customers will be penalised as we rush to put necessary procedures in place and paperwork becomes even more onerous.
  • To be told ‘this is your proposed contract, this is the only option, sign by this date or you don’t get paid’ is completely unacceptable.
  • We have just today (20/6/12) received our 166 page copy of the new contract……We have serious concerns about the impact of many of the provisions of this new contract on our ability to provide adequate dispensing services to our clients, the NZ public. We fear that some of the most vulnerable members of our society will be disadvantaged.
  • Overall this appears to be an unbalanced and hasty contract being forced on contractors to the DHBs.
  • As of 12 noon Friday 22nd June we have not received a hard copy of the contract and have not had answers to the questions I had when I had an individual meeting with the DHB last week.


“Tony Ryall should sort this out with pharmacists before someone is harmed,” Maryan Street said.