The clinical interventions program is no longer continuing from 1 July, but there is scope for future investment in areas such as aged care and mental health
On 18 June, AJP revealed the indicative funding allocations for continuing community pharmacy programs during the first financial year of the 7CPA.
A clear omission is funding for clinical interventions, which no longer appear to be written into the Agreement.
Clinical interventions are clinical activities undertaken by registered pharmacists that aim to improve medicines utilisation, and constitute recommendations or education provided to patients that affect their medication taking behaviour.
The program was allocated nearly $20 million in the first year of the 6CPA alone.
However as no funding has been provided in the 7CPA, the program will no longer be continuing from 1 July 2020 when the new Agreement kicks in.
Clinical intervention payments have been absorbed into other expenditure on professional programs, such as additional funding for Dose Administration Aids (DAAs), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and rural pharmacy support, a Guild spokesperson confirmed to AJP.
For example, the Federal government has committed to increasing the Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance, staring from 10% in the first financial year, and a doubling of the base cap for DAAs.
The Guild had no further comment to add on the matter.
PSA national president Chris Freeman said, “there’s no doubt that it’s unfortunate to see clinical interventions no longer funded in the 7CPA.
“In the original research funded through the PROMISe research trials that led to funding commencing in the 5CPA, clinical interventions were show to save in the order of $280 in health care costs [per intervention],” he told AJP.
“Unfortunately, the implementation of the clinical interventions program did not match the recommendations from the trials, there was a lack of data collected about the types of interventions, and there was not sufficient support in place to assist the delivery of clinical interventions.
“This has meant that clinical interventions have ended up being collateral damage when it comes to ongoing funding.”
However Associate Professor Freeman says the PSA hasn’t given up on short consultations targeted at areas of key importance for medicines safety.
“We think the funding allocation in the first year of the agreement is pragmatic, and there will be review and evaluation of the current programs,” he said, adding that PSA will be focusing closely on this area.
“There will be a need to look at additional external funding to support the $1.2 billion base for professional programs through the life of the Agreement, for example ensuring there is sufficient funding for enhanced medication reviews in light of the Aged Care Royal Commission.
“For too long, previous community pharmacy agreements simply haven’t provided us with the right information about program effectiveness. We need that to change and improve, that will be our focus, so that we can make evidence-informed decisions,” said A/Prof Freeman.
Guild national president George Tambassis confirmed that there is “plenty of scope” for further funding of pharmacy programs, also highlighting the areas of aged care and mental health.
“We tried really hard and the Health Minister [Greg Hunt] was really, really strong with this, to leave the Agreement open to further funding,” said Mr Tambassis.
“The Aged Care Royal Commission’s coming out soon, the same thing goes for the mental health Royal Commission that’s happening in Victoria. There’s great ideas coming out of that, that relate to pharmacy services. There’s plenty of scope in the Agreement that says you can ask for funding outside the Agreement for these particular issues.”