PSA: pharmacy needs more

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) acknowledged the government’s commitment to pharmacy in the 2019-20 federal budget, shown through the extension of the AHI fee and reduced PBS wait times.

PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman said PSA also acknowledged the investment in primary care, aged care and mental health, and spoke of the importance of funding for those sectors.

Looking to the future, Dr Freeman said: “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.

“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.”

Dr Freeman noted the budget announcement to align community pharmacy and private or public hospital pricing arrangements for high-cost medicines and expressed the PSA’s concern about the level of hospital pharmacy services that may be affected by this announcement, including the impact it may have on medicine safety and patient care.

However, 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,” Dr Freeman said. “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.”

Dr Freeman said the establishment of a new unit of clinical pharmacists within the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission that will work directly with residential aged care providers to educate them around best practice use of medicines will improve medicine safety across the country.

“We welcome the government’s announcement of support for a Canberra trial to embed a part-time pharmacist in all 27 residential care facilities,” he said.

“Pharmacists have unique skills in medicines management and are the best placed professionals to ensure better use of medicines, focusing on regulation, education and intervention.

“The budget begins to address PSA’s call in its pre-budget submission for $17 million of seed funding to embed pharmacists in aged care facilities. PSA has shown in our ‘Medicine Safety’ report that medicine safety is a major problem in aged care, where 98 per cent of residents are taking a potentially inappropriate medicine.

“Pharmacists embedded in aged care facilities can protect residents from the harm caused by overuse and misuse of medicines.

“We need a national commitment to ensure pharmacists are used to their full potential to lead a culture of medicine safety in aged care.”

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