Date: 14 September 2022
The need to make medicines more affordable has been reinforced by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride.
Speaking at the recent Pharmacy Connect conference in Sydney, Ms McBride said that as a pharmacist she had experienced first-hand the difficulties some people had in affording medicines.
“As a pharmacist like many of you working in community and hospital settings, I saw people struggling to get the care they needed when they needed it,” she said.
“Patients with a handful of prescriptions . . . They'd often be mums with young children, and they say to me: ‘Which prescription can I avoid or delay’?
“This is why the Labor Government has committed to cutting the cost of medications.
“We will reduce the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme copayment from the current maximum of $42 to a maximum $30 per prescription.
“This will help with the rising cost of living and keep the cost of medications down and ease some of the pressures that Australians are facing today.”
Ms McBride also said pharmacists had to be allowed to work to their full scope of practice.
“Sometimes you have to step out of the role you are in to try to effect change. I am determined to raise the profile and prominence of pharmacists and to see us work to our full scope of practice,” she said.
“This is important because people should be able to access care when they need it.
“You can rely on your local pharmacist. You can trust in the advice they provide you and you know with confidence that they will be there, even when other services are closed.
“And highly trained healthcare practitioners like every one of you in this room, working in close collaborative integrated models of care, should be fully utilised.
“Our healthcare system is struggling. In parts of rural and remote Australia, it is in crisis. I've heard people talk about it being broken.
“We're seeing patients waiting weeks for routine appointments or spending hours waiting to be seen in emergency departments.
“Our healthcare workers . . . are dedicated and they're capable, but they've been overwhelmed.
“Unfortunately, as you know, there's no quick fix here, but there are steps that we can take.
“[One is] working together to improve healthcare for all Australians, including supporting healthcare professionals to work to their full scope of practice. It just makes sense.”
Ms McBride said the Prime Minister, Antony Albanese, had asked her to pass on his and his Government’s gratitude to pharmacists.
“I am proud to be here today as part of one of the most trusted professions in Australia,” she said.
“During the worst of the pandemic you stayed open, supporting your patients, and their families in our communities, while other healthcare providers used telehealth or remote services.
“You put yourselves in harm's way.
“You have been working six days a week. Every week.
“And on behalf of the Albanese Government, I'm here today to say thank you.”
Contact: The Guild