Recommendations a major step forward
for medicine safety
The recommendation to add pharmacists to the list of eligible allied health professionals to access Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items for medication management services for patients with complex care requirements is an important investment in the safe and effective use of medicines, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) said today.
The Allied Health Reference Group of the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce has released a consultation document with a recommendation to establish an item to allow pharmacists to provide medication management services to patients with complex care requirements.
PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman said this recommendation, along with those made by the General Practice and Primary Care Clinical Committee to remunerate non-doctor health professionals to participate in case conferencing, will go a long way in supporting pharmacists to be better integrated with other healthcare providers in primary care.
“We have known for a long time that there are financial and structural impediments to pharmacist involvement in case conferencing, and these recommended changes will help overcome those barriers,” Dr Freeman said.
“These recommendations are a major leap forward, empowering pharmacists to practise to the full extent of their expertise and provide the best possible care for their patients.
“The recommendations could not be more timely, following on from PSA’s Medicine Safety report that revealed the extent of harms caused by medicines misuse in Australia and highlighted the need for pharmacists to be embedded wherever medicines are used.
“PSA has advocated over many years to diversify remuneration to reflect pharmacists’ extensive expertise and contribution to Australia’s health. Pharmacists have been calling for access to the MBS to reflect their skills, training and experience for longer than many of us can remember.
“PSA has advocated for pharmacists to be included in the list of eligible allied health practitioners and we have delivered this positive recommendation.
“In our 2019-20 Pre-budget submission we urged the Government to add pharmacists to the list of eligible allied health professionals that can deliver MBS services to patients with chronic diseases under the allied health chronic disease management items. We have now made this a reality.
“The MBS is a key funding mechanism to support innovative and collaborative models of care for chronic disease and complex conditions. We are delighted that both the Allied Health Reference Group and the General Practice and Primary Care Clinical Committees have listened to PSA and recommended allowing pharmacists to access these MBS items.
“Pharmacists should be able to deliver these services from any setting, including general practice, aboriginal health services and community pharmacies. This is about the right pharmacist, with the right skill set at the right time working as part of a multidisciplinary collaborative team.
“This is an innovative and cost-effective solution to address challenges in the health system and reduce harm caused by medicines.”
PSA’s Pre-budget submission also called for continued funding for integrating pharmacists in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to improve chronic disease management.
In line with PSA’s recommendation, the Reference Group has recommended building and investing in an allied health research base to support evidence-based strategies for integrated or collaborative approaches to chronic disease management.
“This will help address health inequalities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and rural and remote communities,” Dr Freeman said.
“We are excited that our advocacy is unlocking opportunities for pharmacists to realise their full potential. We look forward to working with the committees involved in the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review as they undertake their consultation on these recommendations, and finally when they will be presented to the Minister for Health.
“We also look forward to the Minister for Health making these recommendations a reality after the consultation process has been finalised to ensure pharmacists can do more with medicines for more Australians.”