Chemists concerned at contract deadline
Southern pharmacists are seeking clarification on whether they have an extension to sign their Community Pharmacy Services Agreement.
The deadline to sign the contract was originally Monday, but many southern pharmacists raised concern last week that they had not seen their contracts.
The contracts set out funding ratios for the next three years. If they do not sign, they do not get paid.
Riverton Pharmacy owner Sally Reynolds said she received her 166-page contract last Friday but there had not been enough time to go through it properly with her lawyer.
She had since been told, by email from the Southern District Health Board, that pharmacies had until July 23 to sign and the health board would work with pharmacies to make an initial transition payment to cover those who did not sign by Monday.
However, a further email from the health board, received on Sunday, says pharmacists who faxed the DHB stating they had signed and were returning the agreement would receive their first transition payment on July 2 if the agreement was received by the DHB by June 29, she said.
Pharmacists who signed and returned their agreements by July 23 would receive the July transition payment, but this would be paid on August 1.
Mrs Reynolds said pharmacists were seeking clarification from the DHB about their options.
Pharmacists were hesitant to sign a contract they did not agree with, or accept even initial payments in case this was seen as agreement, Mrs Reynolds said.
There were some exciting aspects to the new agreement, she said, which could make New Zealand pharmacies world leaders.
However, clarification was needed around others as there was uncertainty over the new funding ratios and how this would affect businesses, she said.
SDHB acting finance and planning manager David Dickson said a number of pharmacies had requested extensions and the DHB was exploring how they would work with them to ensure they had the opportunity to consider their agreements.
"Pharmacies have until July 23 to sign these agreements and we will work with pharmacies to make an initial transition payment to cover those who have not signed at the earlier opportunity of June 26. Pharmacies are being informed of this at the moment."
A spokesman for the Health Ministry said it was a matter for the health board, and could not comment on whether Health Minister Tony Ryall, or the Ministry, had received complaints from pharmacists about the new contract.
However, Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew, when asked by Labour's health spokeswoman Maryan Street in question time last week, said Mr Ryall had received a number of reports and letters. "Many have generally been in favour of the new agreement, but there have been some concerns around the time frame and technical details."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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