‘An absolute mess’

stethoscope and australian dollars

Guild leader blasts doctors’ handling of Health Care Homes amidst floundering recruitment numbers

Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis has criticised the rollout of Health Care Homes in a session about the 6CPA held at the Pharmacy Connect conference in Sydney on Friday.

Health Care Homes are general practices or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) that provide coordinated, team-based care for Australians with chronic and complex health conditions.

More than 170 practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) are providing Health Care Home services around Australia.

In May 2017 the Australian Government signed a compact with the Pharmacy Guild which included a $30 million investment to incorporate medication management programs within Health Care Homes, allowing community pharmacists to get involved.

This funding is provided by the government under the 6CPA.

A Department of Health factsheet states: “Pharmacy plays a critical role in ensuring that these medicines work together safely and effectively and that patients understand the medicines’ use.

“The Community Pharmacy in Health Care Homes Trial Program helps support patients participating in the Health Care Homes trial by offering them a range of patient-centred, coordinated medication management services tailored to their needs, delivered by their pharmacy of choice.”

“Arrangements are currently being finalised” for the pharmacy trial program, according to government documents.

Mr Tambassis confirmed that funding had been agreed to, but said this has not yet been made available to pharmacists.

“There’s $30 million attached to that for community pharmacies, that’s money that should flow through community pharmacy.

“Some of this takes a while to flow through but it hasn’t been successful.

“There’s absolutely been no take-up by the GPs in signing up patients, it’s been an absolute mess. It is what it is,” said Mr Tambassis at the event.

“I hate to blame our doctor colleagues but you have to point the finger somewhere,” he said, referring to the low uptake of patients and practices into the Health Care Home Model.

Sources close to the Guild suggest the main reason pharmacy involvement has been slow to get going is because the program has stalled in terms of doctor take up and recruitment of patient participants.

The current number of patients is reportedly around 3,500-4,000, while the program was hoping to recruit 65,000.

“Pharmacies can start registering patients ourselves, if doctors don’t want to play in this space and have issues, we have solutions,” said Mr Tambassis.

“It’s absolutely not fair to have this $30 million hanging in the air when we said yes to it ages ago.”

If the Community Pharmacy in Health Care Homes Trial Program ever does go ahead, enrolled patients will be placed into one of three risk tiers.

Consistent with the Health Care Home model, participating pharmacies will receive payment for medication management services that they deliver based on that patient’s risk tier.

The total value of these payments by tier are as follows:

Patient Tier

Payment (maximum)

Tier 3 (highest need/most complex patient)


Tier 2


Tier 1


Payments will be provided to pharmacies in four instalments: one instalment following completion of the patient’s initial consultation, and three subsequent instalments after the patient’s follow-up appointments.

The Health Care Homes stage one trial commenced in ten regions around Australia on 1 October 2017, and will conclude on 30 November 2019.

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  1. Karalyn Huxhagen

    I have just been to my third Health care home meeting hosted by the PHN. They are long and very intense meetings and we have gone from the first one having a large room full of GPs and practice managers participating and asking questions to no GPs in the room at the last one.

    The last meeting was one of those ‘chat group’ meetings that PHNs love to have where you write down what you want to happen and they stick the sticky notes on paper and you debate the pros and cons.

    It was as boring as watching paint dry. The presenter was very anti participation by pharmacy and he was a GP from RACGP. He was tired and over the whole roadshow.

    I really cannot gain insight as to how this will work as they keep saying that the GP practice will be the fund holder for the patient’s units of care for their complex condition. How doe scommunity pharmacy/consultant pharmacists participate and get paid is something that no one at any of the meetings could tell me.

    also the outside providers like the pain specialists were asking the same questions.

    Will we have to be employed by the GP practice?

    There was a great deal of fan fare and money spent when this program was released by the PHN that I work in but I am still struggling to find where we fit in the scheme as are other health care providers.

  2. Steve Flavel

    I had a doctor here refuse to write prescriptions for patients in a local hostel we service unless both the patients and us as their pharmacy was signed up with the Health Care Homes project !!! A few quick calls to the Pharmacy Guild reveals that NO pharmacy is signed up yet because they simply can’t be until the program is finalised

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