Budget wish list

Parliament House, Canberra

What do key pharmacy and health stakeholders want the 2016/17 Federal Budget to deliver?

The 2016/17 Federal Budget is due to be delivered today. Most of the discussion, as far as it relates to health, has been around the need for cutbacks.

So, given this prevailing climate, what do key groups want to get from the Budget?

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia 

The PSA submission focuses on the safe and effective use of medicines to achieve the best possible results by: monitoring outcomes; minimising misuse, over-use and under-use; and improving people’s ability to solve problems related to medication, such as adverse effects or managing multiple medicines.

It also focuses on responding to consumer calls for increased investment in initiatives that improve coordination of care and for pharmacists to play an increased role in primary care.

Key investments PSA recommends include:

  • Improving health outcomes and cost-effectiveness of primary care: Supporting the integration of pharmacists in general practices to deliver medication management services within a collaborative framework.
  • Improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians: Supporting Aboriginal Health Services to integrate pharmacists within their teams to deliver essential medication adherence and education services in a culturally appropriate environment.
  • Developing innovative practice models and a highly responsive workforce: Supporting the continued advancement of a highly responsive and flexible health workforce through investment in the development and implementation of innovative pharmacist practice models consistent with an evidence-based health reform agenda.
  • Effective implementation of eHealth initiatives: Supporting eHealth initiatives such as an effective real time monitoring system for drugs of dependence and equitable incentives to encourage all health professionals to engage with My Health Record.

Australia Medical Association

AMA President Professor Brian Owler said the Government must put a stop to its policies of funding cuts and program cuts from its first two Budgets, and instead invest heavily in the health system to build capacity to meet current and future needs.

Professor Owler said the Government must make public hospitals, primary care, and prevention the centrepiece of its election-year Budget.

“The first steps in the next Health Budget must be to lift the Medicare patient rebate freeze, reverse the cuts to pathology and radiology, and restore public hospital funding to proper levels,” Professor Owler said.

Of particular relevance to pharmacists is the AMAs call for government support for the employment of non-dispensing pharmacists in general practice.

They advocate the establishment of a funding model that is structured in the same way as the existing incentive payments provided for nurses working in general practice.

“This proposal is backed by an independent analysis from the highly respected Deloitte Access Economics, which shows that the AMA proposal delivers a benefit-cost ratio of 1.56, which means that every $1 invested in the program generates $1.56 in savings to the health system.

The role of the general practice pharmacist would not include dispensing or prescribing medication or issuing repeat prescriptions. The AMA proposes that non-dispensing pharmacists in general practice will focus on medication management, in particular:

  • medication management reviews conducted in the practice, an Aboriginal Health Service, the home or a Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF),
  • patient medication advice to facilitate increased medication compliance and medication optimisation;
  • supporting GP prescribing;
  • liaising with outreach services and hospitals when patients with complex medication regimes are discharged from hospital;
  • updating GPs on new drugs;
  • quality or medication safety audits; and
  • developing and managing drug safety monitoring systems.

Consumers Health Forum

The CHF are calling on the Federal Government to reform primary health care to ensure it better meets the needs of people with complex and chronic conditions.

“The introduction of a ‘health care home’ particularly for people with complex and chronic conditions as well as families with children should be central to these changes,” their submission states.

The first steps of this reform should be:

  • Introduction of a system of voluntary enrolment and blended payments for primary health care through a series of large scale demonstration initiatives
  • Provision of identified funding for improved care coordination services.

Among their other requests are a national oral health plan, funding for greater consumer and community involvement in health technology assessment; and additional funding for Primary Health Networks to introduce innovative regionally integrated stepped care arrangements with a focus on improvement in transitions of care and integrated services, and commission services to fill identified gaps in primary health care services for people with complex and chronic conditions.

CHF also said the implementation of government responses to “key reviews underway in primary health care, MBS, pharmacy and private health insurance need to be underpinned by investments in critical health system infrastructure.


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