Pharmacists are calling on the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing to exercise her discretionary powers to allow a pharmacy to be established in Hackett.
Hackett is unable to qualify for a pharmacy under a Federal Government Pharmacy Agreement. Owners of the Griffith Pharmacy Rhonda Warne and Yuko Raimoto have already leased a shop in Hackett for a pharmacy but are now awaiting approval to open it.
There was a pharmacy in Hackett when the shops were built but it closed in the early 1990s.
Location rules now prevent a pharmacy opening with 1.5 kilometres of another pharmacy.
The nearest pharmacy to the proposed Hackett site is 1.345 kilometres away in Watson, just 155 metres short of the cut-off.
"The idea of the location rule is to evenly distribute pharmacies all over Australia so you don’t get a cluster." Ms Warne said.
“It is an unfortunate consequence of that rule: it’s not that that rule is a bad rule,"
Ms Warne believed the location rules were hard to apply in Canberra where almost every suburb had its own shops. many with pharmacies and often the distances between commercial areas was less than 1.5 kilometres.
Ms Warne and Ms Raimoto have put in a submission to the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority.
"Because we fail the distance rule we automatically get a rejection." Ms Warne said.
While the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority has no discretionary powers, Federal Minister for Health and Ageing Tanya Plibersek does. She can override these rules where the application is in the public interest.
With Watson pharmacy currently servicing about 9,000 residents from Watson and Hackett, Ms Warne feels there is definitely a need in the community for a pharmacy.
“We’ve definitely got the population”, she said.
Hackett is one of the five densest suburbs for population in Canberra’s inner north.
"We’re up there with Ainslie and they’ve got a pharmacy, we’ve got more people than Campbell yet they have a pharmacy, we’ve even got more than the city and yet the city has … five pharmacies," Ms Warne said.
Dickson, Lyneham and Watson also have pharmacies.
Hackett Community Association Committee Chairman Greg Haughey has been vocal in the campaign to establish a pharmacy at the local shops. because he believes there are many older residents of Hackett who find it difficult to get to nearby pharmacies due to a lack of personal and public transport.
"The Hackett Community Association has been quite keen to build up the shopping centre – it’s been defunct for quite a few years now." he said.
In the past few years some shops have moved into the area and it is starting to thrive again and he believes a pharmacy in Hackett will assist the revitalisation of the area,
Mr Haughey envisaged a pharmacy that would act as a hub for the community, especially for elderly residents. "If it wasn’t for Watson there wouldn’t be an issue, ‘ he said
The association has contacted local and federal members and health ministers to support the establishment of the pharmacy.
by Joni Scanlon
20 March 2012