Pharmacist services not comparable to gas, electricity

Clinical services should be viewed though a health lens – not an economic lens, pharmacy leader tells King Review panel

In response to the King Review’s Interim Report released last month, the PSA has put forth its submission urging the Panel to recognise the direct impact their findings will have on business models in the pharmacy sector.

And the organisation’s National President Shane Jackson has called on the King Review panel to view clinical services delivered by pharmacists, especially dispensing, through a health lens and not an economic lens.

“Dispensing is a core clinical activity performed by the majority of pharmacists across the country. We need to build on this core role, and expand on the services available for community pharmacists to help their patients,” says Dr Jackson.

“The Review provides an opportunity to consider fundamental change to the way pharmacists utilise their skills, training and expertise to improve the use of medicines in primary care. We must grasp this opportunity to do things better.

“Unfortunately the review does not provide options that will see long-term, sustainable reform and development of the community pharmacy sector,” he says.

“It does offer the opportunity for government to take up the call for profession-led development of a spectrum of pharmacist activities that recognise and appropriately remunerate the clinical input of pharmacists and the value they add to the health system.”

PSA argues that the King Review panel’s use of economic principles to support reasoning for changes to pharmacist remuneration for dispensing is “flawed and inappropriate”.

“Medicines and health services requiring the cognitive input of clinicians are not ordinary items of commerce and hence are not comparable to commodities such as gas or electricity,” says the PSA.

“A more appropriate payment model for pharmacist services is one which recognises and remunerates pharmacists based on the complexity of the presenting consumer’s situation and/or services provided.

“Limiting funding of pharmacist services in the community to the PBS budget only contributes to Australia’s pharmacists being underutilised across the broader health system.”

In its response to the King Review interim report, PSA also argues for its involvement in CPA governance, planning and implementation.

It calls for professional programs offered by community pharmacies to be considered in context of consumer health needs, and says changes to remuneration for dispensing should be modelled and extensively considered prior to implementation as they made potentially compromise the viability of the sector.

“Ultimately, all Australians should have timely access to the medicines and related health services they need at a cost individuals and the community can afford. PSA is committed to this goal,” says Dr Jackson.

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