HMR caps still a concern

The issue of funding caps on the HMR and RMMR programs has again raised its head during a discussion of professional service trials.

In a panel discussion at the recent PSA16 conference, dedicated to the 6CPA Pharmacy Trial Programs, former PSA national vice president John Jackson asked why new trial funding was being discussed when existing service-based pharmacy programs – the HMR and RMMR programs – were still capped.

To widespread support from other delegates, Jackson said the issue was one that needed rapid resolution given the length of time the caps had been in place.

“Consultant pharmacist incomes are still being affected by this restriction,” he said.

Panellists, including George Tambassis, national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, largely agreed that while the caps were an unfortunate consequence of earlier funding decisions, little could be done till more research was collated on the existing programs.       

Penny Shakespeare, First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Division said any decision on revising the level of funding for the HMR/RMMR programs would occur after a review of the program.

This would take place as part of the process of properly evaluating the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of all continuing community pharmacy programs by the Medical Services Advisory Committee, and will occur during the life of the 6CPA. 

Dr Claire O’Reilly of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, and recently the first pharmacist appointed to MSAC said the current HMR/RMMR program would be assessed as part of that review, and if its efficacy proved to be evidence-based, it should in due course be appropriately funded.

Meanwhile, the first of the PTP programs –   Pharmacy-based screening and referral for diabetes – was currently at an advanced stage, with a trial protocol developed, and “trialling to commence soon”, according to Health Minister Sussan Ley.

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  1. amanda cronin

    To me the value of HMR’s is a no brainer- the drugs ceased alone would more then cover the cost. For them be useful though there has to be a good relationship with the GP so they trust your reccomendations and they need to be done in a timely manner or GP’s get fed up with issuing them and waiting months for them to be done.

  2. Angus Thompson

    At the PSA16 panel on Pharmacist/GP collaboration, It was unfortunate to hear Frank Jones of the RACGP suggest that HMRs have been a failure with aspersions cast on the ability of pharmacists to provide a useful service when they ‘do not have the background information’. Thankfully Deidre Criddle did not let this go unchallenged. Furthermore, I would suggest that this easily rectified by GPs generating decent refererrals that do provide that background, i.e. PMH, test results and some free text context for the review. The GPs I do HMRs for know that and consequently provide quality referrals and we all know that the quality of what you get out of a process depends on the quality of what you put in.

    • BJ

      Goodness me, what a thing for Jones to say! And these are the representative statements of GPs that want such Pharmacists to work alongside them in GP surgeries? Be careful Pharmacists, be careful I say.

  3. Christine Wise

    There has been plenty of ‘review’ for HMR & RMMR success & benefit, which should already be available without reinventing the wheel. The capping is affecting the GP/ pharmacist relationship which we have all spent so long building. When we cannot do more than 20 HMRs a month and there is no-one else available, what else can be expected? As the accredited pharmacist, with the good, strong GP relationship, I am often the conduit between pharmacy & GP, which is so often overlooked by the powers. Apparently the above RACGP spokesperson has not been in the ear of my local GPs as they very much value HMRs & my input!

  4. Drugby

    I agree Angus Thompson. I was dismayed to hear RACGP president Dr Frank Jones say “HMRs are a failure”. 15 years of HMRs ALL initiated by GPs have been a failure???
    HMRs tick all the boxes: patient-centered ✅ evidence-based ✅ cost-effective ✅
    And they are collaborative!
    So why do we feel threatened for the ongoing future and sustainability for this valuable program?
    I would urge all accredited pharmacists to respond to the King Review and help make HMRs part of the future for Australian consumers.

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