National pharmacist body issues call for MBS rebates and over $200m funding for employment of non-dispensing pharmacists
The PSA is calling on the Federal Government to create new MBS items that rebate pharmacists for their attendance at case conferences, according to its 2021-22 Federal Budget Submission.
In December, the MBS Taskforce recommended the creation of three new items to rebate attendance at a case conferences by non-medical health practitioners.
The peak body representing pharmacists is calling for a budget of $34.50 per case conference of 15-20 minutes; $64.20 per case conference of 20-40 minutes (aligned to allied health items 10950-10970); and $120.00 per case conference of >40 minutes.
“Creating MBS items for non-medical health practitioners to align with the equivalent GP items will foster better collaboration and enhanced safe and quality use of medicine outcomes for patients,” the PSA said in its budget submission, released on Friday.
The recommendation means pharmacists will, for the first time, be one of the eligible groups to be remunerated for participation in interdisciplinary case conferences.
The PSA is also proposing that the government invest $197.8 million over four years to fund the employment of non-dispensing pharmacists in residential aged care facilities.
It recommends 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacists dedicated per 100 aged care residents. Based on current residency, this would equate to 910 FTE pharmacists to support Australia’s 181,200 people living in residential aged care.
PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said the recommendation is in response to the recent Royal Commission Aged Care interim report, which was critical of medicine management in Australia’s aged care sector.
“The interim report highlighted widespread overprescribing, often without clear consent, of drugs which sedate residents, rendering them drowsy and unresponsive to visiting family and removing their ability to interact with people,” said A/Prof Freeman.
“We have seen the role of pharmacists embedded within aged care facilities well received by patients, family members, and healthcare professionals.”
The Budget submission also calls for $30.9 million over four years to enable in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to employ pharmacists within their primary healthcare teams.
“While several programs have been developed to improve medicines access and use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, much more needs to be done to address the known disparities in medicines access and quality use of medicines compared to other Australians,” explains the PSA.
PSA recommends funding of 0.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacists per Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, plus a proportional FTE based on 1.0 FTE per 8295 patients.
Appropriate loadings based on rurality would apply to the funding model. Based on current population estimates this would equate to approximately 85 FTE pharmacists to support the 483,073 clients of Aboriginal primary healthcare services.
Finally the PSA calls on the government invest $5 million to fund the development of a pilot program for a nationally coordinated pharmacovigilance system that would allow patients and primary care providers – for example, general practice, community pharmacies and aged care – to electronically record medicine safety incidents.
It also requests a further $10 million for a pilot program to incentivise participating primary care service providers.
PSA said that while Australia has done well to reduce the harm caused by medicines inside our hospitals, the overwhelming majority of medicine harm occurs in the community and in aged care. Patient safety incident monitoring is widely recognised as fundamental to reducing harm within health settings.
“Throughout the 2020 bushfire crises and COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists have continued to provide essential services to patients and the Government needs to work with pharmacists to implement these recommendations to achieve positive health outcomes,” said A/Prof Freeman.
“While Australia rightly continues to focus on and lead the world in our COVID-19 response, it is important that we do not ignore the other health challenges and priorities that Australians face.”