November 2001 issue Pharmacy Today magazine
As national pharmacy services contract negotiations grind on, Amcal Chemist Papakura is setting its own business direction.
The pharmacy is in the process of finalising a separate contract with the Ministry of Health.
Manager, and recently elected Counties-Manukau District health board member Lindsay Smith, negotiated his first contract over four years ago.
Lindsay Smith is just one of six individual pharmacies negotiating in the current contract round.
With the document yet to be signed, Lindsay Smith is unwilling to reveal details.
"We've reached what we think is the basis of a good agreement and I have no regrets in pursuing my own contract.
"But we've had holdups with the (Pharmacy) Guild not reaching agreement and the state of flux within the health sector."
Lindsay Smith says he shares the guild's frustration with the regular turnover of Ministry of Health negotiating staff, ministry advisors with scant knowledge of pharmacy, and what seems to be ever changing ministry data.
However, recent negotiations have gone smoothly.
"Probably the key has been to treat the ministry as a business client rather than an adversary and that approach appears to be reciprocated, he says.
The overriding benefit of the individual contract, he says, is having more control of the business's destiny.
The pharmacy is not a "cash and wrap" operation and provides the rural-urban community with the full range of pharmaceutical services including hospital-only medicines.
What encouraged Lindsay Smith to embark on the pharmacy's individual contract was his involvement in pilot programmes and unpaid consultation work with North RHA and Health Benefits Limited.
He says his growing knowledge of the evolving health system allowed him to better judge what was in the interests of pharmacy and to settle a separate contract.
Meanwhile Care Chemist director Des Adams is also frustrated with the delays in negotiating the Care Chemist contract.
The group has been 18 months in negotiation and in that time has had to negotiate with five different bodies.
"I'll write a book about it one day - it's just been so frustrating," he said.
The Care Chemist group has had its own contract since 1995. While the contract for the dispensing fee will be the same as that negotiated by the guild, Des Adams says it's the other services that set Care Chemists apart.
"We're medicine manager, not just dispensers, and that is reflected in the contract we negotiate," he said.
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