In 2018, Parliamentary Inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland, looked at the implications of pharmacy ownership models and their effect on community healthcare outcomes. Specifically, the Inquiry investigated the impacts of a corporate-owned model compared to the current, pharmacist-owned model. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, representing community pharmacy, was concerned that the Inquiry recommendations might put in jeopardy the current system of ownership (where only a registered pharmacist can own a community pharmacy) and allow future ownership by supermarkets and other corporate entities.
As a long-standing consultant to the Guild with intimate knowledge of the community pharmacy sector, BBS was engaged to encourage and support pharmacy users to ensure their voice was heard as part of the Inquiry. Our program involved extensively briefing community and health advocacy groups, plus engaging with community pharmacists, their staff and customers to ensure that they were aware of the Inquiry, the potential outcomes and the ways in which they could provide their points of view. The ultimate aim was to generate support for the Guild’s position that the current regime of pharmacist-owned pharmacies should be retained for the benefit of the community.
More than 210 submissions were made to the enquiry, with the lion’s share of these generated by those involved in our program. Submissions not only highlighted the important role of the pharmacist-owner model but also, more broadly, the vital contribution that community pharmacy plays in the overall healthcare system.
As a result of the overwhelmingly supportive submissions, the Inquiry Committee recommended that the pharmacist-owned model be maintained and that a pharmacy roundtable be implemented to provide oversight and investigate business transactions that did not adhere to this model. Furthermore, an expanded scope for pharmacists was also recommended; in recognising the valuable, convenient, accessible and safe contribution that community pharmacy provides to the health outcomes in Queensland.