Pharmacy to evolve, be more competitive: Ley

David Quilty, Ann Dalton, Sussan Ley, George Tambassis

The role of pharmacists must continue to evolve as Australia’s healthcare system undergoes modernising changes, Health Minister Sussan Ley told the Guild dinner at Parliament House in Canberra last night.

She says that while she understands that some in the pharmacy sector might prefer the ability to discount the PBS copayment by $1 was not included in the 6CPA, she makes no apologies “for a measure that will help drive a more competitive sector”.

“I am of the view that price competition will drive value for the consumer,” she told the Guild dinner. “This is in line with other parts of the health sector which discount patient contributions as a matter of course.

“For consumers with a life-threatening disease or chronic condition requiring ongoing medication, any dollars they can save will be greatly appreciated.

“Australia’s healthcare system is at a crossroads,” Minister Ley told the audience. “We are facing significant challenges in maintaining the sustainability of our health system; and at the same time continuing to deliver the high quality care all Australians have come to expect.

“We now have 21st century healthcare needs working off the legacy of a 20th century health system for their delivery.

“Demographic and lifestyle changes have increased our burden of chronic disease. Not only increasing the demand for health services but also changing their complexity.

“This challenge is coupled with the increasing expectations of the Australian health consumer.”

However positive change includes advances in digital technology and health information.

“Pharmacy’s challenge is to develop these new solutions; address these emerging challenges and capitalise on the genuine potential of your profession and sector.

“New solutions which can tap into our funding commitment of $50 million for Pharmacy Trial Programs to offer new and innovative ways for pharmacists to participate in the wider primary healthcare environment.

“I see a vital role for pharmacy in providing a link with the broader health reform agenda to develop consumer-centred care consistent with the work being undertaken elsewhere in my portfolio.”

Minister Ley also discussed the upcoming review of pharmacy remuneration and regulation and announced the membership of the expert panel which will undertake the review: Monash University’s Professor Stephen King, pharmacy’s Bill Scott, and Jo Watson, deputy chair of the Consumer Health Forum Board and consumer representative on the PBAC.

Minister Ley also paid tribute to Hannah Mann, of Pharmacy of the Year 2015 Kimberly Pharmacy Services, Broome, who she met recently on a trip to the area.

“You get in your car and drive hours and hours on those dirt roads to see your community. You write on a piece of paper an explanation that you know your patient will understand, because sometimes it’s hard to get them to take their medicine.”

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