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