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Hours slashed by pharmacy

Bec Wilkins

A MANUNDA pharmacy has cut its trading hours in anticipation of the costly 60-day dispensing rule and a shortage of pharmacists.

Optimal Pharmacy at the Raintrees shopping centre used to trade seven days a week but now is closed on Sunday, with Monday to Friday hours of 8am-6pm and Saturday 9am-4pm. Previously it was open until 6.30pm Monday to Wednesday and Friday and 7pm on Thursday and 9am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Pharmacist and manager Bec Wilkins blamed the pending 60-day rule where customers would be able to receive twice the medication for the cost of a single prescription.

She said the proposal would mean their dispensing fee income would be halved.

“So instead of getting $8 per stock item every month we will be getting $8 per second month,” Miss Wilkins said.

She said the business relied on prescriptions more than general stock in the store to make money. “Our store’s not very profitable as it is.

“We rely on dispensing stock and if the prescriptions are cut it will be a massive hit,” Miss Wilkins said.

She said she had slashed the hours of some of the 14 part-time and casual staff to meet the budget and therefore reduced opening hours.

Miss Wilkins said another factor was the severe shortage of pharmacists.

She said the owner had been forced to fly in pharmacists from New South Wales so there were at least two available for dispensing and reduce the stress on staff.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Professor Trent Twomey said he was not surprised.

“Calanna pharmacies used to be 8am-8pm, seven days a week, but Terry White (the new owners) have cut hours,” he said. The stores now close at either 5pm or 6pm.

Mr Twomey said Chemist Warehouse had also started increasing their prices.

He said he was in Brisbane this week to continue the guild’s lobbying campaign followed by Canberra when parliament sits again from September 4.

A new report by the Commonwealth Bank and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has revealed a bleak outlook from pharmacists because of the Albanese government’s introduction of 60-day dispensing.

The ‘Commbank Pharmacy Insights Report 2023’ shows an overwhelming number of pharmacists will be charging for what were previously free services, cutting staff and trading hours, and believe the value of their pharmacy will fall over the next three years. 

Comment was sought from Terry White Chemmart and Chemist Warehouse.

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