Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist January 2013 Contents 26 Australian Pharmacist January 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
An opportunity for
By Lindy Swain
Lindy Swain is PSA's Director of Rural
Policy. She is based a Lismore, NSW.
She can be contacted at: email@example.com
RURAL PHARMACY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
As the New Year begins it is timely
to reflect on the health care reforms
of 2012 and speculate on the future
roles of pharmacists in primary
health care settings.
A key component of the Australian
Government's National Health Reforms
has been the establishment of a new
nationwide network of Medicare Locals.
Medicare Locals are primary health
care organisations established to
coordinate primary health care delivery
and tackle local health care needs and
service gaps. They are intended to drive
improvements in primary health care and
ensure that services are better tailored
to meet the needs of local communities.
Across Australia a total of 61 Medicare
Locals have now been established.
Medicare Locals have a number of key roles
in improving primary health care services
for local communities. These include
making it easier for patients to access the
services they need, by linking local GPs,
nursing and other health professionals
(including pharmacists), hospitals and
aged care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander health organisations.
What is PSA doing?
PSA has established contact with
each Medicare Local (ML) and is an
organisational member of several and has
been working closely with the Australian
Medicare Local Alliance (AMLA), the peak
body for Medicare Locals.
PSA sponsored sessions at the World Health
Care Networks Conference (WHCN) in July
2012 and the National Primary Health Care
Conference (NPHC) in November 2012.
These sessions were well attended, mainly
by GPs and ML CEOs. At each conference,
panels discussed the roles of pharmacists
in health care teams. These discussions
resulted in good audience engagement
and positive discourse about the important
role pharmacists can play in mental
health teams, palliative care teams and
management of chronic disease. At the
NPHC conference it was observed that
many patients may have 2--3 interactions
annually with their GP whereas many
interact with pharmacists 12 times or
Nine pharmacists have been elected
to the Boards of Medicare Locals so far.
PSA has established the Pharmacists in
Health Governance Special Interest Group
(PHGSIG) to provide support for pharmacists
involved with Medicare Locals, either as board
members or on allied health advisory panels.
PSA has arranged member contact
lists in alignment with Medicare Local
boundaries. PSA is in the process of liaising
with members to establish "pharmacy
chapters" to assist MLs to communicate
with pharmacists in their local region.
(Members will be given the opportunity to
opt out if they do not wish to be part of their
local pharmacy chapter)
Working with Medicare Locals
Throughout the MLs there is a diverse range of
governance and membership structures, some
with individual membership, whilst others
may only have organisational members.
Some MLs have clinicians on their boards
while others have set up clinical and allied
health committees to advise their boards.
PSA is encouraging individual pharmacists
to contact their MLs and enquire how they
can participate in ML planning and initiatives.
MLs are currently being funded to conduct
local population forums and needs analyses.
They have funding to deliver after-hours
services and are currently tendering for
funding to deliver disease prevention and
health promotion programs, aged care and
healthy ageing, multi-disciplinary aged care
and mental illness programs. In each of these
programs pharmacists are needed to ensure
improved patient health outcomes.
Pharmacists in the ACT will benefit from
ML After-Hours Funding. The ACT Medicare
Local conducted a needs assessment which
confirmed that pharmacists play a key role in
providing assistance to Canberra residents
during the after-hours health care period.
Consequently they are funding an after-hours
training package for pharmacists. This training
will raise the awareness of pharmacists about
after-hours service availability and will develop
pharmacists' skills for managing and triaging
common after-hours presentations.
As more programs are rolled out
through Medicare Locals, pharmacists
will be able to play important roles as
care co-ordinators, liaison officers, and
medication educators and facilitators,
assisting patients and health professionals
unravel their medication mysteries.
If you haven't already done so I urge you
to contact your Medicare Local, become a
member and valued player in your local
primary health care programs.
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