HMR caps are inappropriate, wages are “appallingly low” and Australia is no longer a leader in professional services, says the new PSA president
PSA’s newly elected national president, Dr Shane Jackson, outlined his vision for pharmacy and discussed the King Review and pharmacist pay in an opening plenary session at the peak body’s annual conference, PSA17.
Dr Jackson announced PSA’s intent to develop a 10-Year Action Plan for pharmacist services in Australia.
“We used to lead the world in pharmacist professional services but unfortunately we don’t anymore,” he told the conference.
“But I want to see this rectified – we must see this rectified.”
The 10-year plan will involve a “comprehensive” consultation process, taking into account the views of consumers, policy makers, Government, pharmacists and other health professional groups.
“Ideas that fall out of this consultation will form a platform for PSA’s work leading into the next Pharmacy Agreement.”
Dr Jackson also took aim at the cap on HMRs and “appallingly low wages” in the sector.
“I intend on having a mature debate about supporting pharmacist roles about the healthcare system, and that’s what this consultation healthcare plan will deliver.
“Otherwise if we don’t have that considered view, we end up having processes like arbitrary provider caps on HMRs – these are vital services available to us, and simply having caps on them at a provider level is simply not appropriate.
“We simply cannot have arbitrary provider caps on clinical services for medication reviews such as HMRs.
“These are important programs that must have sufficient investment.
“There are pockets of emerging and evidence-based opportunities available for pharmacists; in terms of new career pathways, new roles and remuneration, innovation and value-adding professional services being led by PSA .
“This plan is closely linked with another issue that I know is the main point of discontent for many pharmacists, particularly Early Career Pharmacists – that is the issue of appallingly low wages.
“There is no quick fix to this – but I believe it must flow from new roles and new remuneration.”
Australia also needs to ban the word “underutilised” when it talks about pharmacists, says Dr Jackson.
“The recently released Pharmacy Review Interim Report… clearly stated: ‘there is significant opportunity to better utilise the skills of pharmacists to support improved access to health services and improved health outcomes for the community’.”
“In my term, I intend to work hard to ensure pharmacists are used across the healthcare system for their skills as medicines experts,” Dr Jackson told the conference.
“Instead of the oft-quoted phrase “underutilised pharmacists”, I want to banish the ‘underutilised’ phrase from our phrasebook.”
He said the King Review offers an opportunity to “consider fundamental change to the way the pharmacy profession utilises its significant skills, training and expertise to improve the use of medicines in primary care”.
“We must grasp this opportunity to do things better,” he said.
He said that as the peak body for pharmacists in Australia, PSA should be a co-signatory to the next Pharmacy Agreement.
“We believe PSA being a co-signatory to the Pharmacy Agreement will bring better outcomes for pharmacists, the profession and ensure delivery of programs and services are focused on health outcomes.”