The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed the Federal Budget announcement of measures that will help community pharmacies as front-line health care providers and small businesses, while also addressing specific concerns for regional, rural and remote patients.
The National President of the Guild, Professor Trent Twomey, said the Budget was a positive move towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am very pleased to see the important role community pharmacy must play in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout is reflected in $35.8 million being allocated for a temporary community pharmacy program to administer vaccines to patients in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the rollout,” Professor Twomey said.
Professor Twomey said the $17.7 billion boost over four years for the aged care sector was an important advance, but that an opportunity to better utilise community pharmacists in support of at-home care needed to be pursued.
“The Guild has urged the Government to commit to greater funding for pharmacists to supply dose administration aids to ageing patients who are able to stay at home. This is important to help ensure medication adherence for these vulnerable patients, and we are disappointed this has not been factored into the aged care package at this stage. We will, however, continue to work with the Government on this proposal.”
The Guild was also disappointed at the Government’s lack of recognition of Australians who need a nationally consistent and affordable Opioid Replacement Therapy program. However, it is hoped that this will form part of the National Preventative Health Strategy package.
“They are some of the most disadvantaged patients in the country, and the divergent set of State-run programs and lack of either Federal or State funding has meant that access to this program is unaffordable for many of them,” he said.
The Guild’s pre-Budget submission provided the Government with a practical and affordable option to resolve this problem by better use of the community pharmacy network.
“Urgent action is needed now and conducting a post-market review is only delaying any useful solution,” he said.
However, the provision of $3.9 million to continue the Take Home Naloxone (THN) pilot program for a further 12 months, providing medication which can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose or adverse reaction to at-risk Australians is welcomed.
Professor Twomey said the allocation of $120 million to help reduce the regulatory burden for business interactions with Government would also be welcomed by community pharmacies across Australia.
“As small businesses, the burden of dealing with Government can be a very heavy and time-consuming one,” he said.
“Anything which makes these interactions easier, and frees pharmacists to spend more time with patients, is indeed welcome.
“The announcement that businesses with a turnover of up to $5 billion until June 2022 will immediately be able to write off the full value of any eligible asset they purchase for their business is a boost for pharmacies across Australia.
“The Guild is also pleased to see expenditure of $421.6 million for improving the My Health Record and supporting small and medium enterprises to expand their digital capability.
“The evolution of digital operating and prescribing systems in community pharmacy is continuing, and any improvement in the access and workability of My Health Record is a very positive move.
Mr Twomey said the Guild also welcomed the Budget focus on programs for women.
“The community pharmacy profession boasts a workforce of more than 60 per cent women and this trend is accelerating with some two thirds of graduates being women,” he said.
“The Budget focus on women is long overdue and we support it wholeheartedly.”