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August 2001 issue Pharmacy Today magazine


It may be a year over due, but pharmacies will finally be paid around $1 million owed for hospital-only dispensing. The Ministry of Health has directed Health Benefits Limited to make the back dated payments, which are expected to arrive in four to six weeks.

Most affected pharmacies are owned fees going back to February last year and some are due reimbursement from July 1999. The Pharmacy Guild and now defunct Health Funding Association reached agreement on the payments in August last year.

The delay was caused by the complexities of drawing up the variation document and the interruptions of the latest round of health restructuring, Health Ministry senior analyst Mark Barrett says.

But Pharmacy guild chief executive Murray Burns is unimpressed, describing the delay as "scandalous."

He says the ministry's failure to pay effects pharmacies' commercial health to varying degrees.

"The ministry's obligations are now two years old. Patience is a virtue but this is a nonsense."

Meanwhile, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Ministry of Health and Pharmacy Guild contract negotiations. Guild frustrations at the slow progress are the result of the ministry having to bring District Health Boards into the process and developing a contract template able to accommodate change, according to the ministry.

Pricing and the breaking-up of the patient subsidy remain unresolved issues.

Mark Barrett expects the Care Chemists contract to be signed within the next few weeks. The deal will involve 15 pharmacies, all located in the North Island.

Pharmacists wishing to view the service specifications should contact the Ministry of Health or Julian Inch at District Health Boards New Zealand on .

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