UPDATED: 2021-22 Federal Budget: Pharmacists integral to improve health outcomes for Australians

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

* Updated PSA Media Release*

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has called on the Federal Government to implement four strategic measures in its 2021-22 Budget Submission that will enable pharmacists to significantly improve health outcomes for Australians.

Among the recommendations is a proposal to revise aged care funding instruments and invest $197.8 million over four years to support residential aged care facilities directly engage pharmacists to reduce preventable harm caused by medicines.

PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said the recent Royal Commission Aged Care interim report was critical of medicine management in Australia’s aged care sector.

“The interim report highlighted widespread overprescribing, often without clear consent, of drugs which sedate residents, rendering them drowsy and unresponsive to visiting family and removing their ability to interact with people,” he said.

“Inappropriately sedating residents of aged care facilities is not care, it’s an abrogation of responsibility that must be addressed.

“We have seen the role of pharmacists embedded within aged care facilities well received by patients, family members, and healthcare professionals and we call on the Government to dedicate 0.5 full-time equivalent pharmacists per 100 aged care residents.”

Based on current residency, this would equate to 910 FTE pharmacists to support Australia’s 181,200 people living in residential aged care, identifying, preventing and managing medicine-related problems, reducing polypharmacy and improving medicines working with residents, family and their prescribers.

PSA recommends the 2021-22 Federal Budget makes provision to:

  • Adopt the MBS Taskforce recommendation to rebate non-medical health professional participation at case conferences.
  • Amend aged care funding instruments to engage pharmacists in Australia’s residential aged care facilities
  • Establish a digital nationally coordinated pharmacovigilance system for primary care
  • Fund pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

A/Prof Freeman said these recommendations provide an opportunity for the government to take action to reduce medicine-related harm and utilise the skills of pharmacists to improve health outcomes for Australians.

“Pharmacists are approachable, knowledgeable and highly trusted within the community and the Australian public want to see the skills of pharmacists put to full use,” he said.

“Throughout the 2020 bushfire crises and COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists have continued to provide essential services to patients and the Government needs to work with pharmacists to implement these recommendations to achieve positive health outcomes.

“While Australia rightly continues to focus on and lead the world in our COVID-19 response, it is important that we do not ignore the other health challenges and priorities that Australians face.”

The PSA Budget submission can be viewed at https://www.psa.org.au/2021-22-budget-submission-pharmacists-integral-to-improve-health-outcomes-of-australians/

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length.