The Pharmacy Guild had the opportunity at APP to gauge pharmacy sentiment about a range of issues affecting the sector
Pharmacy is coming up to the end of the third year of the current Community Pharmacy Agreement, and Guild leaders pointed out at the conference that now is the time to start taking stock of what the sector wants from the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement.
With that in mind, the Guild hosted an interactive session on the last day of the APP2018 conference to find out just what pharmacists think.
Generally, the outlook on pharmacy life was mildly positive. While 44% of the attendees to the 7CPA session said that they would rate the current business conditions for their pharmacy as “average,” another 28% said conditions were good (compared to 15% who said they were poor) and nearly 4% said they were very good (compared to 0% who said they were very poor).
More than 40% of respondents said that the 2018-9 financial year is set to be better than the current year, with only 10% saying it would be worse, and almost 40% expecting things to remain more or less the same.
The Guild looked at several bugbears affecting pharmacy, including the controversial $1 copayment discount, asking whether the audience members would like to see it abolished.
The results were clear: 86% of the delegates strongly agreed that the discount needs to go, with another 9% agreeing and nearly 3% feeling neutral on the subject. Only 2% wanted to keep it.
Guild executive director David Quilty told the audience that Health Minister Greg Hunt has said that “he doesn’t, in effect, want to get our hopes up too much,” with regard to the Government’s review of the discount, but “you can be absolutely assured that that is an issue we will continue to advocate for on your behalf”.
There was strong support for the Guild’s stance on exclusive direct supply. Just over 96% of delegates said that manufacturers should be required to make all PBS-listed products available to all wholesalers participating in the CSO. Only 1.6% disagreed.
Queensland branch president Trent Twomey said that exclusive direct supply was frustrating because medicines are not a free market.
“I don’t have a right to decide what part of national medicines policy I do or don’t want to implement,” he said. “If you want to play in a socialised system of health care, play by the same rules as the rest of us.”
David Quilty said that the Guild is getting a “very good hearing” from Minister Hunt on the matter.
There was strong support for community pharmacy gaining access to specialised medicines currently only available in hospitals: nearly 87% approved, with 3% disagreeing and just over 10% unsure.
And nearly 90% of pharmacists wanted to see changes to the way in which high-cost medicines move through the supply chain (just under 4% seem content with the way they are currently).
A healthy 57% of respondents said their pharmacy had registered for the My Health Record, and 95% wanted to see pharmacies be paid directly for uploading patient data to it.
As for professional programs, just over 87% want to see their range expanded in the 7CPA; and on the topic of additional funding in the 7CPA, the audience was largely split, with just over 48% wanting to see it directed to professional programs, and 49% hoping to see it go to remuneration for dispensing.
The 7CPA professional programs should focus on a combination of primary health care and medication management, with 86% of the audience keen on both. Just over 9% had a stronger focus on medication management, with nearly 2% preferring a balance shift to primary health care.
As for what the programs themselves could look like, there was a clear favourite: 50% of audience members said post-discharge medicine is the one program they’d like to see rolled out more broadly in the 7CPA.
Guild president George Tambassis told the audience that “that’s the most important one, and we haven’t even rolled it out”.
“Make sure you advocate for that program every opportunity you can,” he advised. “We’re trying to roll that out – [former health minister] Sussan Ley announced that at our conference here more than two years ago, and we haven’t even rolled it out yet.”
Next were diabetes screening, at nearly 23%; pain meds checks, at nearly 10%; indigenous medicine and cardiovascular screening, each at just under 5%; and asthma management, at nearly 4%.
The Guild also asked which current 6CPA funded services the delegates wanted to see as the highest priority to be continued in the 7CPA: and DAAs were the clear priority, with nearly 62% selecting these as their top option. DAAs were followed by MedsChecks/Diabetes MedsChecks, at just over 21%; clinical interventions, at 10% and HMRs, at 4%.