From left Alana Sewell, Labour MP for Tukituki Anna Lorck, Lynette Salamonson, PM Chris Hipkins, Reuben Horn and Tim Klingender

On average 50 people a week don’t pick up their prescriptions from Flaxmere Pharmacy.

Instead, they are likely to go to the hospital’s emergency department for free treatment, says Pharmacist Tim Klingender. 

And that is one of the reasons why Klingender, who has owned the pharmacy based in Flaxmere Shopping Village for 23 years, believes the Government’s Budget announcement to remove the $5 co-payment for prescription medicines from July 2023 “will definitely make a difference”.

Klingender and many of his 14 staff were on hand this week when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins called in for a brief chat while in Hawke’s Bay visiting a number of Cyclone  Recovery sites.

“He was very well briefed,” Klingender said of his conversation with the Prime Minister. “One of the highlights was the fact he recognises that pharmacists are capable of more than just dispensing,

“I don’t want to underplay dispensing. But while we can already do Warfin testing and vaccinations we could do more in the area of prescribing for minor ailments such as skin conditions and head lice and the PM seemed to support this.”

Removing the $5 co-payment for prescription medicines will cost the Labour Government  $618.6 million over four years but it means an estimated three million people will no longer have to worry about the cost of collecting their medication.

Minister of Health Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall says removing the $5 charge will make it easier and cheaper for New Zealanders to access the medicines they need, having a meaningful impact for many households, particularly those who have multiple prescriptions to fill on a regular basis.

“This will benefit a huge range of people including almost 770,000 New Zealanders over the age of 65 who received prescription medicines in the community last year.

“The $5 charge can be a barrier to some New Zealanders getting the medicines they need, and this is especially the case at time when people are facing increasing pressures on household budgets.

“As a doctor, there were times when my patients did not collect their medication, and in fact we know more than 135,000 adults did not collect their prescription because of cost in 2021‑22. This is particularly the case for low-income families, Māori, Pasifika peoples, and disabled New Zealanders.

“Free access to medicine will also relieve pressure on the health system. Removing the co‑payment charge will help reduce the demand on hospitals and other health services.”

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


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