Anger over medication funding

PHARMACISTS and aged care providers are outraged by a decision to cut back government funding for medication reviews, which could lead to detrimental health outcomes in vulnerable and elderly people.

Pharmacists must cap home medicine reviews to 20 a month, and residential and home medication reviews have been limited to one per patient every two years, after a closed decision made by the Pharmacy Guild and government.

The guild represents pharmacy owners who made the budget decision without consultation with community pharmacists and aged care providers. The latter will lobby the Federal Government to reinstate full funding.

University of Tasmania medicine researcher Juanita Westbury said the reviews were a valuable monitoring tool that prevented wrong dosages and medicines, and mixing incompatible drugs, and in some instances, death.

Dr Westbury said reining in expenditure at the expense of patient health for pharmacy business interests was not acceptable.

"Someone with chronic illness may be given a raft of medicines and they often don't have time to discuss (the medicines) with their doctors," Dr Westbury said.

"We would say that a lot of patients really like these reviews because they can learn exactly what they are taking ... and we check whether the medications are compatible ... whether patients are taking it appropriately."

Aged and Community Services Tasmania chief executive Darren Mathewson said limiting reviews to two years was ridiculous.

"For older people it means the ability to be assessed more frequently, and having medications adjusted to ensure they are getting the best treatment and care, is less," Mr Mathewson said.

"It will mean that aged care providers will have to fund more of those pharmacist reviews and once again, the obligation will fall to us when we are the ones already in a very tight funding environment.

"It is a critical tool in ensuring that we keep on top of people's care needs."

An Australian Medical Association spokeswoman said home medication reviews were highly valued by GPs.


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