Safer, fairer, cheaper health service to be axed by budget

Released on 14th May 2015

Julie New, a pensioner using cohealth’s community health service in Collingwood says the colocated pharmacy at cohealth which is to be axed gives the sort of service that she wished other medical practices offered.

“I wish other practices had this community-based model rather than some mass supermarket approach”, Ms New said.

The 67-year old former librarian and resident of Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Fitzroy said the service was absolutely invaluable for older or low income people who might find the extra journeyfrom GP to pharmacy too difficult and therefore not follow up on their medication.

“To get my script filled at the same time as seeing the doctor just makes sense. And I’m always impressed by the explanation that’s provided by the pharmacists, in fact last Tuesday I received more information from the cohealth pharmacist than from the hospital I’d recently visited.”

“The one-stop shop approach is professional and offers everything I need”, Ms New said. 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.

GP Kate Coles, who has been working at the community health centre since 2010 said the colocated model delivered better safety and convenience for patients.

“Often the people we see are older or suffering from chronic health issues and needing five or six different medications.

“At other practices, you are never sure if the patient will go out and get their script completed, and what might happen when they run out.

“Being in the same building as the pharmacist means the pharmacist can advise me about how different medications might interact, or whether a cheaper generic drug can do the same job for much less money. It’s a safer, better service for the patient, and it cost the health system and the government less”, Dr Coles said.

Ms Morgain said there’s no question that cohealth is delivering a cheaper version of health care for the government at the Collingwood site, 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.

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.

“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.

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.

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