Budget 2021 “disappointing” for pharmacists

Media release: Friday 21 May 2021

Pharmacists are “disappointed” that Budget 2021 contains no new funding initiatives to support the pharmacy profession to achieve quality patient outcomes.

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, Professor Rhiannon Braund, says “while it was anticipated that this would be a "slim" budget, it is disappointing that there is no provision of support for pharmacy healthcare services.”

According to Professor Braund, “there is additional funding for general practice, but nothing for the wider primary care team, particularly pharmacists who were so critical to providing primary care during COVID-19.”

There is also $14 million of forecast savings for 2020/21 which will be returned to the Crown, that was intended to go to “critical” community pharmacies.

The $14 million of “savings” to be returned to the Crown from this initiative is because the Crown “made the $18 million fund unattainable for pharmacy,” says Braund.

Professor Braund acknowledged that “while the investment into the new health system and transition plans are good to see and may have benefit for pharmacy, it is not clear what this will look like.”

Other new health spending in this year’s Budget includes:

  • $2.7 billion additional funding over four years for District Health Boards, which are set to cease operating in June next year as part of the Government’s health reforms, to address cost pressures.
  • An extra $200 million for Pharmac for new medicines, bringing its budget to more than $1.1 billion per year.
  • $1.5 billion to buy COVID-19 vaccines and fund the immunisation programme.
  • $516.6 million to develop and run effective health infrastructure, including a national health information platform so patient records can be read by approved health professionals anywhere in the country.
  • $486 million to begin the transition to Health NZ and health reforms.
  • $46.7 million more for each of the next four years for primary care, to address cost and volume pressures, supporting programmes increasing access to health services for low-income New Zealanders, such as zero fees for under-14s and the Very Low-Cost Access clinics.