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RACGP President, Dr Nicole Higgins assures Flow FM listeners rural pharmacies are here to stay

Off the back of last week's announcement that pharmacies in rural parts of Australia have received significant financial boosts, which was endorsed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; the President of the medical body, Dr Nicole Higgins, appeared on Flow FM to elaborate on how the changes will shape rural healthcare.

From July 1st, all rural pharmacies received numerous improvements to their bottom line, such as being paid more for dispensing medicines, location allowances being doubled for non-metro pharmacies and medicine stocks being guaranteed.

Speaking on the Flow FM Country Viewpoint program, Higgins explained exactly why the latest update means rural Australians will benefit greatly.

"As we know, it's really difficult for people to access their GP and their pharmacist, we also know that the cost of living is increasing and things are getting tougher, so we have got at the moment a couple of things for patients - one is 60-day dispensing, that means being able to pick two months up at a time when you go to the pharmacy and not having to go to the GP as much to get those scripts," Higgins said.

"One of the concerns about that was the impact on rural pharmacies - in the city, they've got large retail areas and lots of foot traffic coming through but that's different in country areas, so this package aims to compensate our rural pharmacies because they're such an important part of our community."

While rural pharmacies are in line to receive a cash injection of $90,000 to prop them up in the face of harsh financial climates outside of the big cities, Higgins was pressed on whether rural pharmacist wages remained too high and counteracted rural pharmacies' latest stimulus package.

Higgins reassured listeners the latest financial boost to rural pharmacies was significant and would suffice as the catalyst to restoring the future viability of rural pharmacies.

"The funding package is actually really quite significant and it's actually the funding package as a whole, it's being able to not just support the actual individual pharmacist but also the roles that they do and that is about supporting web-to-packs, aged care and not just the dispensing," Higgins said.

"When we're talking about what's happening at the moment with reform, it's happening across the whole health sector whether it be general practice, whether it be pharmacy, nursing, [or] allied health, so this is part of the big picture."


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