01 May, 2014
The recommendation by the Commission of Audit to deregulate the community pharmacy sector displays a lack of understanding of the complexity of the pharmacy system in Australia and how pharmacists play a pivotal role in helping to improve the health outcomes of members of the community.
National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Grant Kardachi, said the pharmacy profession recognised the need for the Government to act on the Budget deficit but the Commission of Audit’s sweeping recommendations on pharmacy were not the answer.
“The Commission’s approach is one that will over time add to the cost of the health system,” Mr Kardachi said.
“Deregulating community pharmacy would only serve to narrow service provision by pharmacists and ensure that price rather than patient health outcomes are the short-term drivers of health service delivery. At present pharmacists are the most accessible health professionals and this is something we must preserve.
“This Commission’s recommendations would leave pharmacists with less ability to provide professional services and preventive healthcare which are critical to a viable and sustainable health system.”
Mr Kardachi said the Government should be looking to strengthen the community pharmacy system rather than weakening it.
“We are encouraged to see the Commission of Audit wanting to give pharmacists opportunities to provide a greater range of services for their customers, and we look forward to seeing further detail of those opportunities,” Mr Kardachi said.
“Recently caps on professional services and the acceleration of price disclosure have had a huge negative impact on pharmacists and now stability and certainty are needed in the profession.
“Keeping people healthy, promoting the Quality Use of Medicines and reducing hospitalisations and hospital stays are all key elements of a pharmacist’s day-to-day practice. These activities greatly impact on health costs and any changes which reduce a pharmacist’s ability to deliver such services will increase the cost of health provision.
“In our submission to the Commission, PSA highlighted the fact that more than 7 million Australians have a chronic disease; 8 out of 10 people aged over 65 have at least one chronic disease, and more than half of those people have two or more chronic disease. We also stressed that more than half of all potentially preventable hospitalisations are from chronic conditions and chronic diseases account for 70 per cent of all health expenditure and cause 50 per cent of all deaths in Australia.
“PSA urges the Government to reject these recommendations relating to community pharmacy and work with the sector so that pharmacists can play their pivotal role in improving health outcomes and in so doing reduce health expenditure. This is the way forward.”
Media contact: Peter Waterman
Public Affairs Director
0419 260 827