AMA Vice President, Dr Stephen Parnis, today questioned the Government’s decision to dramatically increase funding to the pharmacy sector under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, while doctors and patients are subject to a Medicare patient rebate freeze until 2018.
Dr Parnis complains that pharmacy will receive a guaranteed 4.54% increase each year for five years, while medical services get zero increase for the next three years.
“The handout to pharmacies also includes an extra $600 million for ‘support programs for patients’,” Dr Parnis says.
“This is a lot of money for programs that are yet to be devised. We have seen past proposals and worry about fragmentation of patient care because these pharmacy ‘services’ may not add any value to patient outcomes.
“The Health Minister said today that the Government wants pharmacists to play a greater role in the patient’s ‘medical team’ – but pharmacists are pharmacists, not doctors.
“Pharmacists are not medically trained to provide medical services, nor are they indemnified to do so.
“The best primary care is provided by the local family doctor, the GP – the most cost-efficient part of the health system.”
He says the Government has its health priorities all wrong.
“Patients have been hit with a Medicare rebate freeze until 2018. Public hospital funding to the States has been cut dramatically. More health programs and services suffered funding cuts in last week’s Budget.
“But the pharmacy sector gets a huge funding boost with no questions asked.”