Home' Australian Pharmacist : May 2011 Contents Vol. 30 -- May #05
Will the Federal Budget deliver?
By Mark Thornton
Well, the 2011 Budget is almost
upon us and it's fingers crossed for
the funding that will allow Australian
health care to enter the 21st Century
and base a pharmacist in each
Medicare Local with the back-up of a
fully functioning e-health system.
The PSA made a strong case that was
well received because it made sense.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon will, of all
people, understand the full beneficial
implications of the PSA submission.
She also understands the criticisms
wielded against it by other interests
concerned about what they see as
intrusion into what they believe should
be their domain. However, the first
budget after an election is usually a
tough one where governments of all
persuasions get the hard decisions
out of the way, so let's hope the hard
heads in finance and treasury haven't
panned the proposal to save money.
Since we reported on this several
months ago the AMA has, as
expected, opposed not just the
PSA proposal but most parts of the
very concept of Medicare Locals as
outlined by Ms Roxon.
Late in March the association's
Federal Council issued a statement
saying, 'the main function of Medicare
Locals must be to better support the
role of the GP in delivering services
to patients'. They made no specific
mention of liaison pharmacists,
though the implication was there.
The AMA Position Statement insists
that if the Medicare Locals are to be
introduced, this should be done in line
with its own 'overall health vision'.
Mark Thornton is a Canberra-based
journalist and was a member of the Federal
Parliamentary Press Gallery for many years.
Any opinions expressed are not necessarily
those of PSA, its Board or staff.
Fair enough. They have expertise in
primary health care. But surely they
understand the benefits of liaison
pharmacists working shoulder to
shoulder with themselves and other
health care providers; especially as the
'Locals' will be linked into the e-health
network that Ms Roxon is so keen on.
Ms Roxon understands this and so
does her department, which is working
closely under her direction on the issue.
It certainly makes sense to the patients.
Interestingly, the National Rural
Health Alliance, with its membership
of 31 diverse medical and health
groups (including Rural Pharmacists
Australia) thinks it's a great idea. And,
as they represent about one third of
the country's population -- the one
third that it's difficult to get city-
centric doctors out to care for -- the
Government is again very conscious of
the NRHA as a pressure group.
After its recent conference the NRHA
put this very issue as one of its three
priorities, saying it has 'great hopes
for Medicare Locals (MLs) and Local
Hospital Networks. In rural and remote
areas both entities will need sufficient
funding for the more complex challenges
they face. This high level of support will
be particularly important for MLs as,
over time, they become the lead agency
for primary care in their region.
Dr Jenny May, NRHA Chair, felt able
to tell delegates that Ms Roxon
is on side and had emphasised to
the Alliance that the government is
determined to correct the inequity
currently experienced by country
people -- inequity that would be
balanced by e-health and MLs.
So you can bet there's considerable
lobbying going on in Canberra in
relation to this particular part of the
Budget, even though it's not exactly
a big spending item. And what's
interesting to PSA members is that the
concept of pharmacists and e-health
in Medicare Locals has PSA's name all
over it. The PSA adopted the notion
of e-health early on, recognising the
benefits it has for the public, and those
in the Government and Department of
Health with knowledge of such things,
cannot help but have noticed.
However, the Guild's Kos Sclavos has
been on the ball too with his recent
comments that the National e-Health
Transition Authority, has been too
doctor-focused under the leadership
of former AMA president Mukesh
Haikerwal, though of course Dr
Haikerwal is now moving on to much
greener pastures with his appointment
as Chair of the World Medical
Association. Good luck to him.
And good luck to the PSA in the Budget.
Links Archive June 2011 April 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page