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Government boosts funding for community pharmacies to support more rural and regional communities

The Australian Government is providing more than $100 million for regional, rural and remote pharmacies to better support their communities through an expansion to a critical regional pharmacy program.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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The Coalition Government is providing more than $100 million for regional, rural and remote pharmacies to better support their communities through an expansion to a critical regional pharmacy program.

Over 400 additional pharmacies will be eligible for the Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) program under changes announced today, with very remote pharmacies receiving significant additional funding to support the supply of medicines and healthcare in their community.

These changes will help ensure all Australians can access the medicines and pharmacy services they need, where and when they need them, and is a key outcome of the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement (7CPA) signed with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia in June 2020. The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is also a Signatory to relevant parts of the Agreement.

Community pharmacies play a vital role in providing access to medicines and essential health services for the third of Australians who live in regional, rural and remote areas.

Our Government, through the RPMA, supports access to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines and pharmacy services for people in regional, rural and remote communities.

The Coalition is boosting its investment in the RPMA program from $16 million per year under the previous 6CPA to $21 million per year of the 7CPA through changes agreed to by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

The changes to the RPMA program will support more than 400 new pharmacies which will be eligible for the first time to participate from areas that were previously not eligible.

This will take the total number of pharmacies eligible for the RPMA to 1215 community pharmacies.

In addition, higher allowances will be available for up to 960 community pharmacies in rural, remote and very remote areas with low prescription volumes.

The RPMA program will transition to the Modified Monash Model of rural classification, from 1 January 2021, to align with other health workforce distribution programs.

Eligible pharmacies will receive between $3,000 to $51,328 per year under this expansion, depending on their remoteness classification and PBS prescription volumes.

The Government recognises the importance of maintaining the pharmacy network to provide a steady and reliable supply of medicines and other pharmacy services, in particular to people outside in the regions.

Community pharmacies stepped up to support their patients during 2020, and have kept their doors open during this year’s bushfires, drought, floods and COVID-19 pandemic.

All Australians benefit from equitable and sustainable access to effective medicines, including highly specialised, expensive and lifesaving medicines through the PBS.

Making sure all Australians have access to timely, safe and affordable medicines continues to be an Australian Government priority.

The RPMA is one of a range of pharmacy programs supported by a $1.2 billion investment in pharmacy programs under the 7CPA.

The overall investment in the 7CPA over the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2025 is expected to be $18.35 billion.

The Coalition Government has made approximately 2500 new and amended medicines listings on the PBS since 2013, at an overall investment of close to $12 billion.

Our Government's commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

George Tambassis, National President, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed the increased support for community pharmacy.

“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia welcomes this expansion of support for the vital work that community pharmacies in regional, rural and remote Australia perform every day.

“In many small towns across Australia, the local community pharmacy is the only health infrastructure, and it is imperative that appropriate support is given to enable those pharmacies to sustain their service to patients.”

“Direct contact with a health professional such as a community pharmacist is a benefit that all Australians should be able to have access to, wherever they live.”

“We thank the Government for agreeing to this increase in funding for the program, and we will support our Member pharmacies in making the transition to the new program,” Mr Tambassis said.

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