Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist April 2016 Contents Australian Pharmacist April 2016 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The past month in Canberra has been an interesting one. The Federal Press
Gallery has been fixated on the possibility of a double dissolution Federal
election on 2 July. From the flood of MPs announcing their retirement, it is
safe to say that the phoney election campaign is well underway.
The Labor Opposition accelerated the
release of policies. Its negative gearing
policy had the added benefit of catching
the Turnbull Government on the hop.
It seemed unable to even decide on
what day the federal Budget would
be announced, let alone unveil an
And, of course, the Government’s
proposed changes to Senate voting
caused a furore on the cross benches.
One of the more interesting
announcements came from Australian
Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator Ricky
Muir, from Victoria. On 24 February he
introduced a Private Senator’s Bill to the
Senate, The Social Security Amendment
(Diabetes Support) Bill 2016, to amend
the Social Security Act 1991, to ensure
Australians diagnosed with type 1 diabetes
have access to required medication
and peripheral devices despite their
The chances of this bill ever being debated
a slim at best. In fact, it is quite possible
that by the time this issue of Australian
Pharmacist hits the streets an election may
well have been called.
Why then would Senator Muir undertake
such a seemingly pointless exercise?
Perhaps he read the February 2016
Australian Pharmacist cover story,
Australia’s chronic health needs mending?
(Page 26.) Is he trying to win the votes of
people with type 1 diabetes?
This may not be as silly as it sounds.
The Australian Institute of Health and
welfare released figures late in 2015
showing that 50% of the Australian
population have a chronic condition and
20% have more than one. Senator Muir
may be on to something here.
Last month the Grattan Institute released
a report, Chronic failure in primary care,
on chronic disease in Australia. It said:
‘Australia’s health system was designed
to deal with infectious disease, wars
and accidents. But the most significant
burden on the health system today is
It concluded that, ‘ineffective management
of heart disease, asthma, diabetes and
other chronic diseases costs the Australian
health system more than $320 million each
year in avoidable hospital admissions’ and
a broader payment for integrated team
care would help to focus care on patients
and long-term outcomes rather than
focusing on single diseases.
The Grattan report was welcomed by
Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne
Wells, who said the health debate had
to shift away ‘from its preoccupation
with hospitals and hospitals financing
to fundamental, lasting reforms that are
in the long term interests of consumers,
taxpayers and a sustainable, responsive,
affordable health system – that means
investment in a stronger, integrated
primary healthcare system’.
If all those people with chronic conditions
are not getting the care they need because
the health system is not geared to deliver it,
Senator Muir could be on a real vote winner.
In a statement about his private Senator’s
bill, he said: ‘Something which is
unfortunately overlooked is the significant
financial and emotional burden which
type 1 diabetes imposes on not only the
patients, but also their family and the
broader community. If we can ensure
accessibility to diabetes care from a
younger age, this will carry over into better
diabetes care practices into adolescence
Keep an eye out for more cross bench
Senators championing chronic disease
sufferers in the lead up to the election.
Of course, individual pharmacies and
pharmacists have been supporting people
with chronic conditions for ever – either
formally or informally. This could be an
opportunity for the profession to push for a
more formal and paid role in the ‘integrated
primary health care system’ for pharmacists.
It will be interesting if chronic disease as an
election issue takes off or if it gets lost in
Now if it could be connected to medicinal
cannabis it would definitely be a winner.
Medicinal cannabis is definitely the flavour
of the month. If every Australian state
seeking to establish a medical cannabis
industry is successful, we could have
a medicinal cannabis export industry
BY ANDREW DANIELS
» CANBERRA COMMENTARY
Andrew Daniels is Managing Editor of Australian
Pharmacist. Opinions expressed in this column are
not necessarily those of the Pharmaceutical Society,
its Board or staff.
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