Australia’s only community-funded pharmacy that’s been saving the Federal Government money whilst servicing Melbourne’s poorest communities will be axed by the 2015 Budget.
cohealth Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said it was unbelievable and unfair that cohealth’s integrated patient care model, which delivers prescriptions at 30% less cost than the national average, was to be cut.
“It seems extraordinary to withdraw funding from a service that is delivering on the government’s policy objectives”, Ms Morgain said.
“Given government investigations into runaway spending on pharmaceuticals and the recent Mental Health Review recommendation that pharmacists be better be linked with GPs, this decision flies in the face of efforts to streamline health care costs. “There’s no question that we are delivering a cheaper version of health care for the government to some of the sickest people in our community, and our GPs say the overall quality of care is better for their patients.
“We’re astonished that we’ve had no consultation with the government on this policy decision.”
“Our community-driven, not-for-profit model follows international best practice and we invite the Health Minister to view it as a way to address skyrocketing health care costs.
“Out of the Mental Health Review, the Australian Medical Association and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia have already begun working on a model for pharmacists to work in GP clinics. cohealth already offers such a model and it’s operated successfully for 20 years.
Last year Australia had 190,000 preventable hospital admissions because of incorrect pharmaceuticals issues, costing the system $660 million.
“We are operating a streamlined, one-stop, integrated doctor/pharmacy service in the one building – it ticks the box for efficient service delivery, good medication management, and leads to better health outcomes and cheaper health care.
“For example, cohealth GPs see many people speaking languages other than English. With the pharmacy onsite, interpreters assisting the patient with their medical appointment can also ensure
people understand and comply with their medications.
“One of the main reasons older people get admitted to hospital is problems with their medication. Because our doctors and pharmacists are in the same building and share the medical records,
collaboration on individual patient cases improves care.”
The cohealth community pharmacy, which delivered 24,660 prescriptions last year, demonstratedlower rates of antibiotic, hypnotics like temazepan, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories use than
Dr Kate Coles, a GP at cohealth, said the benefit for co-located health care was clear. “In this model, the pharmacist and I share medical records and talk to each other about patient care.
“We quickly pick up on issues with people’s medication – issues such as over prescription, possible cheaper medicines, or if there are any interactions between medicines prescribed”, Dr Coles
“This keeps people out of hospital, and makes their medicines safer.
Ms Morgain invited the Health Minister, who has shown a willingness to consult with medical practitioners, to look at how the community health care sector could be a partner in addressing skyrocketing rates of prescribing for mental, aged care and chronic illnesses.
“This community pharmacy model should be rolled out, not wrapped up”, Ms Morgain said.
“cohealth stands ready to work with governments to respond with solutions so that sick people do not bear the brunt of poor decision-making, and the community benefits with fairer, cheaper, higher quality health care.