18 May, 2015
Consumers winners as professional services get boost in Community Pharmacy Agreement
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has welcomed the signing of a letter of intent between the Australian Government and the Pharmacy Guild agreeing on the broad parameters of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, including doubling of funding for pharmacist-delivered professional services to $1.26 billion over five years.
Acting National President of the PSA, Michelle Lynch, said: “The allocation of $1.26 billion for evidence-based professional services is exactly what PSA has been advocating for.
The 6CPA will have the largest professional services budget of any agreement to date. This allocation will amount to some 7 per cent of the total agreement budget and will bring surety to continuation of services such as medication reviews over the next five years.”
Ms Lynch said the signing of the letter of intent would end months of uncertainty and speculation over the future of the agreement.
The professional services allocation followed working group discussions over the past year with the Guild on programs and services, as well as advocacy by PSA to government and politicians across Australia.
“While full details are yet to be made public, it is critical the full range of professional services is progressed through this allocation as soon as possible.
These services also need to be supported by appropriate implementation assistance,” Ms Lynch said.
However, the PSA remains concerned about the health impact of some of the Budget savings measures that are still on the table such as the $1 discretionary co-payment discount, the co-payment increase from last year’s budget, the Safety Net threshold increases and the proposed de-listing of some medications from the PBS.
“We hope that consumer access to pharmacist services in 6CPA will not be contingent on these savings measures,” Ms Lynch said.
“PSA welcomes the Guild’s statement that dispensing remuneration will be delinked from the price of medicines in the 6CPA. Similarly, it is critical that professional services are properly funded in their own right and not subject to savings measures being passed by Parliament.
“We look forward to more detail on what is intended for the $600 million described as a ‘contingency reserve’.
Consumers deserve access to the full suite of evidence-based pharmacist services – they produce positive health outcomes and generate savings for Government.
“We congratulate the Minister on the Government’s acknowledgement of the significant value that pharmacists bring to primary care.
This is a truly ground-breaking agreement for professional services, and we look forward to supporting pharmacists deliver these services, for the benefit of consumers.”
May 15, 2015
Industry and profession leaders together to debate future of pharmacy practice at PSA15
A panel discussion at PSA 15 will for the first time bring together representatives of leading pharmacy organisations to engage in a robust debate on the future of pharmacist practice in Australia.
PSA 15, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s new concept in pharmacy conferences, will see the PSA, the Australian Self Medication Industry, Medicines Australia, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professional Pharmacists Australia, the National Australian Pharmacy Students Association, Association, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia and FRED technologies together in a panel discussion facilitated by journalist Virginia Trioli.
Ms Trioli is one of Australia’s best-known journalists and has won a Walkley Award, one of Australia’s premier journalism awards, on two occasions.
With a formidable reputation as a television anchor, radio presenter, writer and commentator, Ms Trioli will guide and monitor the debate on this critical issue which holds the key to the pharmacy profession’s future.
The debate will be one of the many highlights at PSA15 which incorporates the best of PSA’s previous key onshore conferences – CPExpo and PAC.
The result is a fresh and innovative approach to pharmacy conferences moving into the future.
PSA has taken on board the needs of industry, and the needs of our members, to arrive at a formula which we are confident will deliver results for everyone – sponsors, industry and delegates.
The development of PSA15 has been an evolution, rather than a revolution.
PSA15 is as exciting as it is innovative.
The theme of Leading Pharmacy Innovation will provide unrivalled diversity in clinical education with accredited sessions and interactive workshops delivered by key opinion leaders and clinical experts.
PSA15 will be held at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, 31 July – 2 August 2015.
Further details and registration are available at http://www.psa.org.au/psa15
12 May 2015
Few surprises, but no answers on 6CPA
The 2015 Budget held no surprises, with many of the significant budget measures having been leaked days or even weeks ago.
However, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia said the elephant in the room with the Budget was the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, for which there were no answers forthcoming.
The Acting National President of PSA, Michelle Lynch, said examination of the 2015-16 Budget papers revealed the Government was still committed to lifting the safety net threshold by two prescriptions and 10% each year (for general and concessional patients respectively).
“This measure is from last year’s Budget, and hasn’t even been approved by Parliament yet. Tonight’s Budget papers note a renewed start date of 2016 with the increases pushing out to 2019.
This measure is at odds with the Government’s recent policy announcements proposing a $1 discretionary PBS co-payment discount in the 6CPA,” she said.
“As PSA has previously stated, we are concerned that such a measure will negatively impact consumers, leading to less affordable access to medicines for Australians with chronic diseases, which we know in turn impacts health outcomes.”
The Budget papers said the savings made from this measure, to be phased in over three years, would go ‘to other health priorities’.
“Without knowing what these other priorities are, PSA believes this measure is a backwards step, and may do more harm than good in the longer term,” she said.
Ms Lynch said the Government also announced it would refocus after-hours primary care funding, but has only funded GPs to be involved in these services, through practice incentives.
“This ignores other key primary health professionals such as pharmacists who are an integral part of after-hours care, as acknowledged by the recent Victorian Government budget announcement to support 24/7 pharmacies,” she said.
“PSA has initiated a successful collaborative after-hours model with GPs in Canberra and we urge the Government to broaden the scope of this incentive to include pharmacists.
“The positives in the Budget include the previously announced review of MBS services. It was revealed at budget lockup that of the current 5,700 services covered by the MBS, only 3% had ever been assessed for effectiveness. PSA advocates for evidence-based services and this review is a strong step in that direction for the MBS which could see substantial savings.
“The PSA believes that this could create opportunities for investment in evidence-based pharmacist services.”
Ms Lynch said the announcement of a Primary Health Care Advisory Group was also welcomed and PSA would expect to see pharmacists as integral members of this group.
Another potential positive for consumers and the health system is the invigoration of electronic health records.
The Government expects to save $A2.5 billion a year through the $485 million rescue package for the eHealth record initiative which will now be an opt-in rather than an opt-out system.
Whilst Government confirmed that some of the funding will go toward education for health practitioners, funds will also be used to incentivise GPs to participate in the scheme.
Disappointingly, there was no mention of other practitioners accessing this incentive.
The Government’s review of eHealth records identifies that the majority of savings to be realised through this measure is through more appropriate medication management – so participation of pharmacists in the development of this budget measure will be critical.
Outside of the health portfolio, the PSA welcomed the $5.3 billion small business package, which should be positive for community pharmacies, with tax breaks applying to businesses with annual turnover under $2 million.
“That said, PSA is deeply concerned that the benefits derived through this small business package could be undermined by some of the 6CPA policy proposals on the table,” Ms Lynch said.
“Most importantly, PSA doesn’t want to see patient health compromised through increased co-payment and safety net thresholds. Savings identified in the Budget papers through PBS price disclosure will total $3.1 billion in 2018-19. These savings should be reinvested in ensuring patients receive access to affordable evidence-based pharmacist care.”
11 May 2015
PSA welcomes reports of major boost to pharmacist professional services
The peak body representing Australia’s 28,000 pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), today welcomed a commitment reported in The Australian on May 11 to double the amount of funding for pharmacist programs and professional services in the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement from $600 million to $1.2 billion over the next five years.
Acting National President of the PSA, Michelle Lynch, said it demonstrated the Minister had been listening.
“Our 6CPA discussion paper released late last year, Better health outcomes through improved primary care, as well as ongoing advocacy by PSA and our all of our members, argues that $1.2 billion is the amount necessary to properly fund important pharmacist-delivered services in 6CPA.”
Ms Lynch said while specific details of services and programs had not been made public, she hoped this funding would bring surety to the continuation of professional services such as Home Medicines Reviews, and also enable continued support for services such as Clinical Interventions and Dose Administration Aids.
“Patient access to the health benefit of these $1.2 billion worth of services is critical. We know that our members – Australia’s pharmacists – are ready to deliver services to communities and consumers in need. We look forward to helping pharmacists deliver the full range of professional services as soon as possible.”
Ms Lynch also welcomed the focus on rural and remote services and the need for performance measures.
“Today’s report in The Australian also highlights the Minister’s focus on performance measures for the 6CPA. The need for a greater focus on evidence and outcomes has also been highlighted in PSA’s advocacy and our 6CPA discussion paper. In addition, we have long argued that rural and remote pharmacy needs support, and it’s great to see the Minister agrees,” Ms Lynch said.
PSA also welcomed the reported investment in the important infrastructure of community pharmacy, a critical component of the health network that allows Australians affordable and timely access to the PBS, as well as access to pharmacist services.
“Everyone benefits from a viable community pharmacy sector. It allows pharmacists to be employed not only to provide medicines and advice, but to use their medication management expertise to deliver services to consumers and work with GPs to improve patient health, which has flow on benefits in the broader health system. This proposed policy is a win for consumers, a win for Government and a win for pharmacists,” Ms Lynch said.
PSA remains concerned however, about some of the measures proposed by Government to create savings in the PBS budget, particularly those that have the potential to undermine the National Medicines Policy’s Quality Use of Medicines principles by commoditising medicines and threaten universal access to the PBS.
“What we would not wish to see is that the benefits for consumers in any proposed pharmacist programs are offset by cuts in other areas. As PSA and key consumers groups stated last week, we are opposed to proposals that disadvantage consumers with chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, and those living in rural areas,” she said.
“We urge the minister to reconsider the delisting of over-the counter medicines on the PBS, the $1 discretionary discount and the proposed co-payment increases from last year’s budget, as the full impact of these measures has not been properly considered.”