Recently the Federal health minister released information on the National Primary Health Care Strategy, which included a reference to the possibility of extending prescribing rights and Medicare subsidies to allied health practitioners in primary care roles.
This could obviously involve pharmacists in these primary care roles and therefore begins to pave the way for community clinical practitioner pharmacists and pharmacist prescribers.
This is a major step forward for pharmacists’ practice in Australia, and one that I believe is desperately needed. Finally a primary care strategy is in motion that seeks to benefit the patient, rather than one or more particular professional fraternities.
I have long been advocating for the introduction of independent, clinical, MBS-funded, prescription-writing practice by individual pharmacists; and I feel as though all those who believe the same MUST speak up now or risk losing their role in future Australian health care.
Also, as a bit more background information, the minister has commissioned an expert panel to discuss this strategy.
Unfortunately, there is only one pharmacist on this panel, and it is a PGA national councillor. I therefore remain significantly concerned that the sole pharmacist on this panel is aligned to an organisation whose president has been recently quoted as saying: “Under my watch, professional pharmacy services will never be paid via MBS… I would resign if the Guild adopted that payment model.”1
Due to these developments, last month I wrote to Ms. Roxon to express my views on the possible future roles that independent clinical practitioner pharmacists could play, the benefits of pharmacist prescribing as well as my opposition to the Guild-skewed bias of the expert panel.
I hereby implore everyone with similar views to write to the health minister to express their support for independent practice.
Remember, if you are a pharmacist who could see yourself in an independent, community clinical practitioner role; then you should speak up and make your thoughts known to those elected representatives who may be able to invoke change.
Clearly Australia could well do with a primary health care reform that increases public access to primary health practitioners and subsidised medicines.
This is the way of the future, don’t get left behind!
AJP vol.89. June 2008. p5