The AMA’s fears that extending the scope of pharmacy professional services would result in ‘fragmentation of patient care’ is unfounded, says PSA national president Grant Kardachi – and airing their concerns could do more harm than good.
Kardachi told the AJP that the doctors could inadvertently cause unwarranted concerns for consumers seeking to improve their health outcomes by having a pharmacist as part of their care team.
$1.26 billion has been set aside for professional services delivered by pharmacists under the upcoming Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement; a letter of in-principle agreement has been signed by the Guild and Health Minister Sussan Ley, and the Agreement itself is due to be signed by June 30 for implementation from July 1.
“The reaction by the AMA failed to take into account the facts around pharmacist-delivered professional services which include a number of programs currently funded in the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement,” Kardachi says.
“These include Home Medicines Reviews and Residential Medication Management Reviews which are collaborative models of care between the pharmacist and GP to optimise outcomes for the patient.
“For the AMA to say they are ‘surprised’ that pharmacists are moving into primary care is a little perplexing, as every day, pharmacists—through ready accessibility—provide advice to consumers on minor ailments and referral to other parts of the health system, particularly GPs.
“Pharmacists are well and truly already part of primary care,” says Kardachi.
He says PSA wants to focus its attention on evidence and outcomes in the development of current and future programs.
“The 6CPA, from the few details that have been released to date, will ensure surety for pharmacists and help plan for the future and develop business models to target professional services,” he says.
“It is an important time for the profession and there a growing focus on consumer health moving forward.
“This opens greater opportunities for closer collaboration with other health professionals, particularly GPs.
“There will be greater diversity of professional work and this includes greater opportunities for non-dispensing pharmacists too.”
However, Kardachi says the PSA is concerned about the option for pharmacies to discount the patient copayment on scripts by up to $1 each.
Some pharmacies may pass on the discount to their customers to remain competitive, but pharmacies in remote areas may not give the discount, thus denying universality of care as set out as a foundation of the medical system under the National Medicines Policy.
“A focus on price is a concern as medicines are not normal items of commerce, and this focus on price can have a negative impact on quality use of medicines,” he says.