Widen pharmacist MBS access: Guild

Pharmacists should be able to access the MBS when delivering services to consumers irrespective of where the pharmacist is practising, the Pharmacy Guild has stressed in a submission to the federal government.

The submission to an Allied Health Reference Group (AHRG) inquiry supports pharmacist eligibility for MBS items for provision of primary healthcare services to patients and for MBS items relating to chronic disease management and case conferencing activities.

Other aspects of the submission to the AHRG’s inquiry into Primary Care Reference Groups Consultation – Medicare Benefits Schedule Taskforce reports include that the Guild:

  • Disagrees with the concept that “non-dispensing pharmacists” accessing MBS should exclude community pharmacy or be exclusive to GP surgeries.
  • Believes pharmacists who are not dispensing can practise wherever there is a consumer need for such services as medicine reconciliation, medicines reviews, counselling and education services.
  • Believes pharmacists involved in the collaborative care of a patient as part of the healthcare team should not be excluded from the MBS due to their location.
  • Believes a patient accessing health services should not be disadvantaged by where they choose to access those services or by which health professional delivers them.
  • Supports access to MBS under expansion of allied health categories.

The Guild says one of the recommendations examined in the taskforce’s review relates to the expansion of allied health involvement under team care arrangements, and that this is where categorising pharmacists as an allied health profession fails to do justice to the work community pharmacists undertake on a daily basis.

“The recommendation is that pharmacists should be recognised as a discipline in their own right similar to medicine, nursing and dentistry, rather than being grouped with allied health disciplines,” the Guild said.

“We agree with this recommendation and believe that pharmacists should be included as one of the health professionals that can contribute to the care of a patient. Pharmacists can and do contribute to a patient’s care plan as a member of the primary healthcare team. They are often in communication with a patient’s GP or other health professionals regarding the therapeutic management of their conditions, and directly refer to the GP when issues are identified.

“Pharmacists can and already do help with chronic disease management such as monitoring of blood pressure, point of care testing, medicine adherence and disease state management.

“While these services can be performed by a pharmacist at a GP’s surgery or a residential care facility, the Guild believes it is most appropriate for a pharmacist to be involved in the healthcare team in an ‘outreach’ capacity from the local community pharmacy.”

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