Advocating for pharmacies in primary health care

The Pharmacy Guild is vigorously advocating a broader role for community pharmacy in primary health care.

Guild representatives appeared as witnesses at the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health inquiry into chronic disease prevention and management in primary health care.

Our submission to the Committee stressed that equipping all arms of the health system to work in a coordinated way towards common measurable health outcomes is vital to ensure ongoing affordability across the system. Put simply, community pharmacies are the most appropriate and accessible primary providers of health care through optimal therapeutic use of medicines, medicines management, and related clinical services.

Ideally, we need to see coordinated multidisciplinary teams of health providers working collaboratively in the community setting, in an environment where expanding skills are embraced rather than resisted.

The introduction of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) provides a framework to achieve this. But community pharmacies must be involved in the PHNs’ governance, decision making and advisory structures.

Around the world, governments are recognising that pharmacists can identify and address health issues which, if left unchecked, may result in significantly greater health costs and patient detriment.

Our submission to the Committee outlined a small number of examples in which community pharmacy can play an enhanced role. These included:

Medicines adherence

Fifty per cent of known adverse medicine events are avoidable, and community pharmacies are in a prime position to reduce avoidable hospital admissions that flow from these events.

Risk assessment and screening

An in-pharmacy health check service would assist in early identification of disease risk in order to encourage lifestyle behavioural changes and address identified risk factors.

Minor ailments

A structured minor ailments scheme that includes a consumer education campaign to raise awareness of the choices available, together with appropriate remuneration, to provide better allocation of health resources. Currently 23% of Australians in capital cities and 42% in other areas wait at least three days for a GP appointment.

Post-hospital medicines reconciliation

The introduction of a community pharmacy-based medicines reconciliation service for patients most at risk of medication related readmission is integral to reducing hospital readmissions and improving patient outcomes.

Point of Care Testing

Point of Care Testing technology offers consumers convenient access to fast, reliable and evidence-based testing. This includes cholesterol, HbA1c and blood glucose tests.

The Guild’s submission to the Committee complemented other work we are doing on this front, including our input into the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) health reform process.

The current appetite for reform of the health sector provides an unprecedented opportunity to more fully utilise the highly accessible, trusted and professionally staffed network of 5,510 community pharmacies. The Guild is working hard to make the most of this opportunity for our members and for patients.

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Page last updated 23 February 2017