Is it boom or bust on professional services?


pharmacist doing consultation mother baby

Pharmacists could be disappointed by lack of professional services funding boost in 7CPA, barometer team claims

Community pharmacists, who overwhelmingly endorsed increased remuneration and support for professional services as being a central feature of the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement may be let down by its outcome.

That’s the view of the research team behind the 2019 UTS Community Pharmacy Barometer.

As reported in AJP recently, the 2019 barometer recorded the highest level of confidence among community pharmacists in a decade. 

One reason for this increased positivity was the boost to professional services in the 6CPA and the greater implementation of services within pharmacies, both through provision of vaccinations and 6CPA-funded services.

The 2019 barometer, research for which took place in late 2019, found “the majority of pharmacists of all types supported the greater allocation of funding in the 7CPA for the provision of pharmacy services”.

In total, 74% of pharmacists indicated they supported or strongly supported “a greater proportion of funds
to be allocated to services in the 7CPA compared to the 6CPA.”

However, this hasn’t occurred in the agreement, and part of the fallout could be increased levels of negativity, says Emeritus professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj, former head of the Graduate School of Health at UTS speaking at a press briefing today (3 September).

“Something like three quarters of people wanted a greater fund allocation to services in the 7th Agreement. That hasn’t really happened,” he said.

“Some of the strong levels of confidence we found was tied to an expected rise in services funding. That stimulus has gone. It’ll be interesting to see how this translates into next year’s agreement, and what the impact may be on the roll-out of services in pharmacies.”

Barometer respondents had nominated an “array of services they would like to see included in the funding arrangements…”.

These included:

  • woundcare
  • vaccination
  • mental health clinics
  • minor ailments
  • pharmacist prescribing
  • aged care services
  • dose administration aids
  • point-of-care testing
  • disease state screening
  • extended counselling
  • opioid substitution

The range nominated “highlights the uncertainty surrounding what types of services could potentially be
remunerated by CPA agreements,” the barometer team said.

“There is a vast range of services already being providing by pharmacists, however they would like them to be remunerated”.

The breadth of services that pharmacists believe they can provide has not been fully captured
in the 6CPA, pharmacists are looking to the 7CPA for this,” said Warwick Plunkett, PSA director and Past-President.

The Federal Government promised to make $1.2 billion available in funding over the life of the 7CPA for professional pharmacy programs and services—an additional $100 million investment compared to actual expenditure in the 6CPA. This applied to the continuation of existing programs.

The 2019 barometer surveyed a sample of 364 pharmacists in November 2019, with the sample representative of the Australian community pharmacy sector.

 

 

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