SUNDAY LOADING SLAMMED

Written on the 18 March 2010

MALOUF Group Pharmacies has slammed the Federal Government’s introductionof Sunday loading as not just hurtingpharmacists, but also the health ofAustralians by reducing medical access.

CEOStuart McBrien says the Fair Work reforms could cost more than $15,000 per pharmacy annually, depending on the location and opening hours.

“It can only result in a decrease in opening hours and that’s the only way we can make ends meet. Right now we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” says McBrien.

“We get no extra revenue by opening on a Sunday but this policy will increase the costs of employment significantly – it means less employment and less service to the public.

“After hours pay for doctors is obviously significant as they can charge through the Medicare system, but there’s nothing like that for pharmacists after hours.”

McBrien says while the changes will threaten the health of all customers, they will affect rural pharmacies significantly.

“Our concern is if someone needs medicine on a Sunday – let’s say a two year old gets an ear infection, goes to see the GP Sunday morning, gets a script and needs it filled. The consequence of the policy is that there is no incentive to open on Sunday for trade as many pharmacies would run at a loss on those days,” he says.

“One of the great things about the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) is that all Australians are treated equally with regards to access, but with these changes the government is affecting that model.

“City pharmacies subsidise rural pharmacies – we’re comfortable with that as we have both and I think the whole industry is comfortable with that – but as the government tightens the screws with regulation and changes, it threatens the viability of fair medical prices for all, and this will really hurt rural pharmacies.”

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has also called on the Federal Government for three months leeway for SMEs to adapt to the Fair Work reforms.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman, says a lot of SMEs need time to ‘get their heads around these changes’ and so far the government has been open in communication about cooperating with small businesses.


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