Pharmacy signs MoU on Aboriginal health


Aboriginal flag painted on bricks

The Pharmacy Guild and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation are building on already announced 6CPA trial programs

When the Federal Budget was announced in July this year, Health Minister Greg Hunt signalled that the $600 million for new, continuing and expanded Community Pharmacy Programs would go towards those that benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and consumers in rural and remote areas.

These trials are to be led by the Pharmacy Guild as part of the 6CPA.

Now moving forward in their partnership, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Pharmacy Guild have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which builds on initiatives such as improved medication management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and culturally appropriate services.

Initiatives supported by the MoU include:

  • Addressing Closing The Gap (CTG) prescription annotation issues to allow hospital prescribers and specialists to issue CTG prescriptions, community pharmacies to annotate scripts if patients are known to be eligible, and allowing all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to write CTG scripts.
  • Linking CTG eligibility in a nationally accessible identifier, such as through clients’ Medicare numbers, and removing geographical constraints related to CTG.
  • Allowing CTG prescriptions to be written by prescribers who have not completed the Practice Incentives Payment – Indigenous Health Incentive in some circumstances to improve medicines access.
  • Removing the exemption of s100 highly specialised drugs from the CTG measure, such as clozapine and HIV medication.
  • Funding of Dose Administration Aids (DAA) as part of the CTG PBS measure along the lines of the model already in place with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • Establishment of a national consultative body to provide guidance on issues with the aim of improving pharmacy services and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This measure would include looking at expanding Quality Use of Medicines services and ensuring that all ACCHOs (including remote) have access to the Quality Use of Medicines Maximised for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People (QUMAX) program through partnerships with community pharmacies.
  • Supporting a streamlined method for expanding the PBS listing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for example through a national consultative body.
  • Amendment of the Integrated Team Care program (ITC) national guidelines to ensure that ACCHOs receiving subsidised DAAs under the QUMAX program are not excluded from receiving funds for DAAs from the Integrated Team Care Program for clients who do not receive QUMAX DAA subsidy.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, says the MoU is an important step in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia.

“Community pharmacies provide very accessible services, and in remote and rural areas, the community pharmacists may be the only health professional available,” says Mr Tambassis.

“Further developing and improving the delivery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs provided through community pharmacies is a welcome boost in the delivery of healthcare to these communities.”

CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner, has acknowledged the effort and resources both organisations have contributed to improve medicine and pharmacy policy over the last 18 months for Aboriginal people.

“We are delighted that the Guild and NACCHO will be working together with Minister Hunt to continue the Indigenous pharmacy programs and to adopt a number of recommendations that will improve accessibility to medicines for our people to help Close the Gap,” said Ms Turner.

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