CHF funded to consult on King Review, meets with Ley

The Consumers Health Forum, which holds pharmacy reform as a key priority, has welcomed Sussan Ley’s “receptive” response to its call for consumer-lead health solutions

Pharmacy reform “to support new roles for pharmacists and progressive future pharmacy policy” is one of CHF’s priorities, on behalf of Australian health care consumers for the 45th Parliament, says the organisation.

CHF’s deputy chair/treasurer Jo Watson is one of three panellists, along with Professor Stephen King and pharmacist Bill Scott, undertaking the review into pharmacy remuneration and regulation, the discussion paper of which was released yesterday.

In welcoming the release of the King Review paper, CHF CEO Leanne Wells said yesterday that the Community Pharmacy Agreement arrangements “have been associated with the continued maintenance of the location rules widely viewed as anti-competitive and a potential barrier to consumer-focused service development and innovation, and with significant issues concerning the funding of pharmacy as found by the Australian National Audit Office”.

With the King Review actively welcoming submissions from stakeholders including pharmacists and consumers, CHF said it encourages the wider community and its members to engage in the panel’s consultations.

The consumer advocacy group also said it has been funded “to undertake targeted consultations with our members and consumer stakeholders to inform the panel’s deliberations”.

“It is a matter of good public policy that we can now review why such an important sector as community pharmacy should be protected from significant change to improve outcomes for consumers,” says Wells.

Following a meeting with the Health Minister yesterday, Minister Ley’s plans for trials of Health Care Homes are a “promising start,” CHF said today.

“We would like to see the Government turbo-charge this development so that all patients can access consumer-centred community-based health care teams across Australia,” says Wells.

“The Minister has acknowledged to us the importance of consumer-centred services. We welcome her philosophy to ensure Government health dollars are spent as close as possible to the patient.”

Wells says the CHF has an ambitious agenda for the development of the Health Care Homes concept which will require significantly more Government funding.

“The Minister faces great challenges in reshaping health services at a time when the Federal Budget is under pressure,” she says.

“We believe the steps she needs to take to set a longer term plan for the health of the nation will be boosted by ensuring the focus for decisions is kept on the needs of patients and consumers and on a mature, informed conversation with consumers about the choices that need to be made in order to get the best value health system for the taxpayers’ health dollar.

“The lesson from the election is that Australians deeply value Medicare and the principle of universal access.

“The way Medicare serves the community does need reform in areas like primary care and services for the chronically ill. We can succeed if we ensure the principle of universal access is upheld and any changes are developed in active consultation with consumers.

“We were reassured today that the Minister is keen to pursue consumer-led health solutions.”

Wells says that in improving and modernising Medicare, “we must address limitations of fee for service, and ramp up the Medicare benefits system review to stimulate best practice and weed out waste and outmoded services.

“And we need to see the benefits of digital technology now taken for granted in other spheres rolled out in health care to deliver better targeted, coordinated and effective services.”

CHF listed its priorities for this Parliament, which include:

  • Commonwealth leadership on primary health care to drive patient centred health care homes
  • Consolidate Primary Health Networks as regional commissioning organisations to foster place-based, consumer centred health care.
  • Pharmacy reform to support new roles for pharmacists and progressive future pharmacy policy.
  • Workforce reform to spur integrated care including by specialist and allied health practitioners outside hospitals.
  • The national roll-out of personally-controlled electronic health records.
  • Reform to the private health insurance arrangements to deliver better consumer value.

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