PSA welcomes Budget measures and calls on the government to invest its projected surplus on pharmacy’s role in health
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has welcomed the government’s commitment to pharmacy in the 2019-20 Federal Budget handed down on Tuesday night, in particular through the extension of the AHI fee and reduced PBS wait times.
PSA also acknowledged the investment in primary care, aged care and mental health.
“Leading into the next Community Pharmacy Agreement, we would expect at least the same level of investment in community pharmacy and pharmacists to improve accessibility of care and health outcomes for all Australians,” said PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman.
“In a Budget that has now returned to surplus and is projected to be in surplus, we need to have investment in pharmacy and pharmacists across sectors to improve the health of Australians,” said Dr Freeman.
However PSA noted that while there was a Budget announcement to align community pharmacy and private or public hospital pricing arrangements for high cost medicines, it remains concerned about the level of hospital pharmacy services that may be affected and the impact this may have on medicine safety and patient care.
PSA welcomed the government’s announcement of an additional $15 million for pharmacy programs through the 6CPA to promote quality use of medicines, including further supporting the Dose Administration Aids and MedsCheck programs.
“We are delighted the government will build on its efforts to reduce prescription opioid use,” said Dr Freeman.
“We welcome the expansion of the Rural Health Outreach Fund to give people better access to pain management specialist services and train providers to improve prescribing habits.
“The announcement of $7.2 million to establish an Australia-first take-home naloxone program is a significant investment in reducing deaths caused by opioids. It is vital for pharmacy to be a key component of this strategy.”
Funding of $7.7 million over four years was announced for a new unit of clinical pharmacists to be established within the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and work directly with residential aged care providers to educate them around best practice use of medicines.
This will help to ensure use of medication, in particular inappropriate use of psychotropics and antibiotics, in residential aged care is brought into line with best practice and community expectations, says the government.
The PSA welcomed this support as well as the announcement of a Canberra trial to embed a part-time pharmacist in 27 residential care facilities.
This begins to address PSA’s pre-budget submission call for $17 million of seed funding to embed pharmacists in aged care facilities, says the organisation.
“What the government has decided to do is invest in a local trial here in Canberra, so we are working with the Minister’s office to make sure that that’s implemented,” Dr Freeman told AJP.
He added that the PSA will be intimately involved with the trial.
“Obviously the PHN in the ACT will have a critical role based on what their remit is, but based on where we’ve advocated in the past PSA will have a role in that as well.
“Pharmacists embedded in aged care facilities can protect residents from the harm caused by overuse and misuse of medicines,” he said.
“We need a national commitment to ensure pharmacists are used to their full potential to lead a culture of medicine safety in aged care.”
The Federal Government announced it will be investing an additional $6 billion into Medicare, bringing the figure from $25 billion in 2018-19 to $31 billion in 2022-23.
Some of this will be going towards the MBS Review, with the government signalling in the 2019-20 Budget that it will be responding to recommendations from the MBS Review Taskforce.
One recommendation made by the Allied Health Reference Group of the MBS Review Taskforce was for the establishment of an item to allow pharmacists to provide medication management services to patients with complex care requirements outside of usual retail pharmacy operations under MBS items.
“We are still working with the Minister and the Department [of Health] in trying to move those forward,” Dr Freeman told AJP.
“We would continue to work with both in seeing those recommendations be implemented as part of the Budget process [and] to seek firm commitments as the election is being announced.”