The $19 billion question: why cut funding to the only pharmacy that’s been saving the government money?

Released on 19th May 2015

With a review into pharmacy locations imminent, the $19 billion assurance given to private pharmacies stands in stark contrast to the closure of Australia’s only integrated, not-for-profit pharmacy – the one that’s been quietly delivering the government savings.

Low income communities in Melbourne’s inner north, and alternatives to Australia’s ballooning health budget will be the biggest losers from the government’s decision to defund the country’s only integrated, not-for-profit pharmacy.

cohealth Chief Executive Ms Lyn Morgain said it was both disappointing and puzzling that a cost effective and innovative model of pharmaceutical health care was being cut ahead of a major
review, while at the same time guaranteeing funding for private sector pharmacists.

“According to the government’s own performance indicators, our integrated GP/pharmacy model has demonstrated annual savings of over $346,000 to the health budget”, said Ms Morgain.

“Having GPs and pharmacists under the one roof has also delivered prescriptions at 30% less cost than the national average.

“So the big question is; as it announces a review, how come $19 billion in public funds goes to private pharmacy owners, while Australia’s only integrated and cost effective GP/pharmacy model servicing communities that are doing it tough will be closed?

“In the strongest terms, we say listen to GPs and pharmacists who say that being in the same building, sharing patient records, and sharing medical expertise gives people a safer, higher quality of care, and also look at the figures.

“Many of the people we see from inner city and high rise housing communities are on low incomes, and face multiple levels of health disadvantage. They might be experiencing chronic health conditions requiring multiple medications, speak a language other than English, or face marginalization and stigma because they might be homeless or using drugs and other substances.

“They’re people who could potentially cost the system a lot of money, but we’re dealing with their complex needs in a smart, interdisciplinary way.

“If they are using an interpreter for their doctor’s appointment, they can also use that interpreter to understand the medicines their being prescribed.

Ms Morgain said concerned citizens had been in contact with cohealth since the announcement.

“This decision has been unexpected and people are worried.

“We’re convening a community meeting on Thursday to explain the government’s decision, but more importantly, look at how we can reverse it”.

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