Dispensing Separation - the Community must be involved!

The Health Minister had recently made an announcement that the Pharmacy Bill will be on hold until all relevant stakeholders had been consulted.

Dispensing Separation - Who are these stakeholders the Minister is referring to? In my mind, they are the Medical doctors, Dental surgeons and the Veterinary Surgeons. They all "diagnose and treat ailments" and are prescribers of medicines and collectively called "Doctors".

In fact these three professions had lately jointly signed a Memorandum expressing their displeasure and unhappiness over the Pharmacy Bill.

The Bill does not explicitly mention "Dispensing Separation". The Bill, defines the role, function and requirements for storing, delivery  and dispensing of medicines. Thus, once the Bill becomes an Act passed by Parliament, by default, "Dispensing Separation" kicks in.

All parties, the doctors and the pharmacists, in their arguments "against and for" Dispensing Separation respectively, had given the reasons or concerns for costs, convenience, better health delivery and patient outcome.

Yet, in my opinion, nobody had asked the patients whether they are for or against "Dispensing Separation". Yes, there are "sporadic and fragmented responses" and views from various consumer groups, political representatives etc BUT do they represent the patients at large? All parties claim to be "experts" of the subject matter!

In fact, the individual patient and consumer or the lay public at large, are confused with the arguments of the professionals or consumer associations, who claim to represent their interest ... or they are swayed by prejudices by whom they chose to listen and believe...

Is there a solution? I propose that stakeholders, including patient groups, be brought together in a organised manner, to understand the rationale for "Dispensing Separation", have a good debate in order to understand, map out options and agree on the best way forward or drop the idea for Dispensing Separation! Or even having a public survey to educate, gauge or gathering responses ... This could be done  through traditional or, in today's technology driven age, social media.

A structured, organised and methodical approach will minimise confusion and direct the way forward. Someone must take the lead!

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