The Pharmacy Guild supports the Prime Minister’s statement today that while there has been some improvement on Closing the Gap, there is much more to be done.
Community pharmacy continues to make a significant contribution to the important national task of closing the gap in life expectancy and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Guild says.
For instance, community pharmacists have actively implemented the Close the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme arrangements since 2010.
But the Guild believes pharmacy can do more, and we are putting detailed, costed proposals to Government on how we can make a bigger contribution.
The Guild has recently made a submission to Health Minister Sussan Ley to run an immediate trial of a Medicines Review Service to Remote Area Aboriginal Health Service patients delivered by community pharmacies. This trial would be fully funded from existing Community Pharmacy Agreement funding for medicine support for these communities, and would not require additional funding.
The objective is to trial the provision of a flexible and culturally appropriate Medicines Review Service to enhance the quality use of medicines and reduce the number of adverse drug events experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients living in remote areas.
“Recently I was able to spend a few days observing the provision of pharmacy services to remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, and it struck me just how challenging and difficult the task is for primary health care workers in those regions,” says national president of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis.
“It was also apparent how vitally important professional pharmacy services are to improving health outcomes in those communities.”
The Guild says that the Government is yet to respond to the 2011 report of the Senate Inquiry into the effectiveness of special arrangements for the supply of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines to remote area Aboriginal Health Services.
The Guild acknowledges the Government’s commitment to redressing the unequal access of Aboriginal communities to health care services. It says it is keen to do its part to support this process and stand ready to assist in the implementation of the recommendations.
As Members of the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee, the Guild says it is committed to the development and application of Quality Use of Medicines strategies to improve the health and health infrastructure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In addition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicines Review Service outlined above, we support the following measures:
- Maintenance and enhancement of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs in the Community Pharmacy Agreement, including the Quality Use of Medicines Maximised for Aboriginal Peoples program (QUMAX) and workforce programs.
- Improvement of the integration between the Closing The Gap (CTG) PBS Co-Payment measure and the s100 Pharmacy Support Program.
- Equitable remuneration for s100 funding arrangements where chronic disease medications are dispensed.