Part of Professionals Australia

Professionals Australia calls for continuation of Home Medicines Review program

Pharmacists are deeply concerned by the Pharmacy Guild's call for a moratorium on the Home Medicines Review program.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Professionals Australia has written to Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek outlining the impact such a move would have on pharmacists and the communities they serve.

Research has shown that this program saves the Government money by reducing the hospital admissions needed to treat patients who accidentally use their medicines in a potentially life-threatening way.

In fact the research shows this program can prevent up to 255,000 hospital admissions per year, representing significant savings for the Government and preventing Australian patients from suffering needless illnesses and death.

The Pharmacy Guild's proposal gives no thought at all to the pharmacists who perform these reviews and their jobs. In fact it would scrap these jobs immediately, instantly leaving them without this source of income.

Longer term it would cut off an important career path for some of Australia's best and most experienced pharmacists.

Home Medicines Reviews give pharmacists the opportunity and satisfaction of using their specialised skills to dramatically improve the health of their patients.

It is a good example of how the skills of Australia's professional pharmacists should be better used as part of broader local healthcare teams to improve the health of many Australians.

The Pharmacy Guild is proposing this moratorium because these valued pharmacists are not typically pharmacy owners and are therefore not eligible to be members of the Pharmacy Guild.

It is also worth noting that many pharmacists seek a career performing Home Medicines Reviews to escape the culture of underpayments that the Fair Work Ombudsman has shown is inflicted on employee community pharmacists by unscrupulous pharmacy owners, most of whom are members of the Pharmacy Guild.

The fact is the Pharmacy Guild has failed to secure enough money for this program to match its understandable popularity with Australian patients.

This would clearly be a disappointment to pharmacy owners who have relied on the Guild to secure adequate funding for this program on their behalf.

This program should not be scrapped because it is popular, particularly as each extra review has been shown to identify two drug related problems which ultimately saves the Government money.

Instead of a moratorium the Pharmacy Guild should fund the Home Medicines Review funding gap by forgoing a small amount of their income from the Government for managing the $15.4 billion Community Pharmacy Agreement.

However to ensure this vital life-saving program continues to operate Professionals Australia calls on the Government to fund the ongoing operation of this program into the foreseeable future should the Pharmacy Guild walk away from their responsibility for the program.

It is quite clear that the Guild is trying to exert their influence to ensure that payments are only directed to the pharmacy owners they represent without any consideration for the impact on patients or employee pharmacists.

It is a great disappointment that the Guild is seeking to kill off this program only because it doesn't provide a revenue stream to them or the pharmacy owners they represent.

For the benefit of Australian patients and employee pharmacists Professionals Australia has called on the Health Minister to guarantee that Home Medicines Reviews continue across Australia and to consult with pharmacists before any decision is made.

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