Mildura’s pharmacy closes its service 24/7

AFTER a nearly five-year run, Mildura’s only 24/7 pharmacy service is set to close this Monday.

Eric Oguzkaya, managing partner of Chemist Warehouse, said the Langtree Avenue pharmacy would stop offering its 24/7 service on Monday morning due to a “lack of staff turnover” after the pharmacy lost five of its 14 pharmacists in the past six months.

Starting Monday, pharmacists will work from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., while the nursing service, which does not require a Medicare card, will normally continue from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Mr Oguzkaya said his pharmacists had left to start a family, retire or study medicine and he had struggled to find replacements due to COVID.

He said post-COVID fewer pharmacy trainees were traveling from Melbourne and Sydney and border closures had cut off the supply of overseas pharmacists.

“We’ve literally been trying for years to get more pharmacists to Mildura,” he said of the attempt to keep the service, which started in June 2017, open.

“We tried to source from our Chemist Warehouse partners in Melbourne. Two people came to help us. (But) they had to come back earlier than expected. (That) put the nail in the coffin. “

Mr Oguzkaya said a drop in its workforce meant Chemist Warehouse would also stop delivering flu and COVID vaccines.

“Over the past two years, we have offered thousands and thousands of flu and COVID vaccines,” he said. “(But) in the future, we are no longer going to offer this service.”

The change in vaccine administration took effect immediately.

While he did not rule out a return to service, he said it would take at least a year for his seven interns to fully assume pharmacist duties and that would depend on whether some were able to stay at Mildura.

There are 20 overnight pharmacy services in Victoria, while seven are operated by Chemist Warehouse. Mr Oguzkaya said he expected Mildura would not be the last to terminate service.

“Shepperton faces the same dilemma that we face,” he said.

The next nearest pharmacy, open 24/7, is in Bendigo.

He said that over the years, the service had received different visitors, such as discharged patients, visitors at tourist events and even his own family.

“My wife the other night was like, ‘Did you get the diapers?’ and I said, ‘I forgot to take diapers.’ So in the middle of the night she ran, got diapers and Panadol.”

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