Concerns over rising hospital and health costs can be addressed in part by better utilising the skills of pharmacists in the provision of a range of professional services, the National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Grant Kardachi, said today (February 20th).
Mr Kardachi was responding to reports that the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, has called for frank debate about the future of Australia's health system.
"The PSA welcomes such debate as an opportunity to show just how much more pharmacists can contribute to patient health outcomes and the sustainability of the health system," Mr Kardachi said.
"Mr Dutton quoted figures that payments have gone up under Medicare Benefits Schedule from $8 billion a year 10 years ago to $18 billion a year today. He also said over the course of the next four years the funding is projected to go up in public hospitals by 50 per cent. He attributed some of these rises to the increasing ageing population.
"It is ironic that he has made these announcements only days after the Government imposed a cap on the provision of medication review services which have been shown to be very effective in ensuring good medication use in the community. Medication compliance is a major factor in keeping people out of hospitals, and so reducing costs to the Government."
Mr Kardachi said MedsChecks, Diabetes MedsChecks and Home Medicines Reviews were all affected by the caps. Residential Medication Management Reviews have also been impacted by being extended from one every 12 months to one every two years. These are a vital service for those in aged-care facilities where the frail elderly often transition between facilities and hospital with greater frequency than others," Mr Kardachi said.
"All these medication reviews are extremely valuable in ensuring the quality use of medicines and medication compliance by consumers. They are services which improve health outcomes and help to reduce the overall budgetary impact by helping to manage existing conditions and ensuring people are taking their medicines appropriately and as directed," Mr Kardachi said.
Mr Kardachi said PSA had also presented a Budget submission outlining ways pharmacists can help reduce overall health costs.
"The submission highlights three key areas in which existing health resources can be better coordinated and targeted within a collaborative primary health care model to improve health outcomes for Australians. Specifically, it identifies opportunities to better utilise the skills and expertise of pharmacists to address areas of unmet need, aligned with the Government's policy objectives," he said. "The introduction of the caps reduces the very services which are part of the solution."