PM backs pharmacist ownership, innovation

The Government and Guild are working together on new ways to capitalise on pharmacy’s “genuine potential,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said last night.

Speaking at the Pharmacy Guild’s Parliamentary Dinner, the PM addressed the issue of annual reconciliation of community pharmacy remuneration as well as adjusting remuneration for dispensing medicines under the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Service Program to be equivalent to the PBS dispensing fee when not a bulk supply.

Mr Turnbull said that he encouraged pharmacists to continue to explore possibilities open to the sector.

“These include our $50 million Pharmacy Trial Program, through developing close relationships with your local Primary Health Networks and by engaging in shared collaborative care models like our Health Care Homes, which we believe is going to be a very key element in the future, if not the future of primary health care,” he said.

Pharmacists also play an “essential” role in addressing the emerging health challenge of helping one in two Australians manage a chronic health condition, and one in five to manage two or more chronic health conditions.

“People visit their local pharmacy for a range of reasons, from buying products to seeking advice.  This increased contact offers an enormous opportunity for pharmacists to identify patients who have undiagnosed chronic and complex care needs and intervene early. You really are at the front line.

“The Pharmacy Diabetes Screening Trial is just one example that could see pharmacists identifying and referring to a GP some of the half a million plus Australians who have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.  

“There are many opportunities, not just through the trial program, but also through the initiative and innovation of you, our pharmacists.

“In particular, I am excited to see the possibilities of new technologies – like telehealth services, mobile apps and more – to strengthen the relationship between the consumer and their pharmacist.   

“As the Health Minister often says, GPs and pharmacists and are the two key pillars of our primary health care system. A teams-based approach that promotes coordination among these health professionals is essential to meet the emerging challenge.

“Capitalising on these opportunities will see your sector evolve – as our health system evolves – to position community pharmacy very well for the future.

“So we are thoroughly committed, and you know we are, thoroughly committed to you, to the community pharmacists of Australia.”

Mr Turnbull praised the innovative work of Sam Afsar, proprietor of the 2016 Pharmacy of the Year, Pharmacy 777 Nollamara, in the area of mental health.

He said the work of Afsar and his team highlighted the importance of retaining pharmacist ownership of pharmacies.

“Sam’s pharmacy at 777 Nollamara is a great example of why we support pharmacies being owned by a pharmacist.

“The work of Sam and his team, and thousands of pharmacists like them, show that the established community pharmacy model continues to serve Australians well.”

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