JOINT MEDIA RELEASE – Health Minister asks pharmacists to help Close the Gap

Oliver TyeNews, Press Release

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) have welcomed the announcement of a trial to support Aboriginal health organisations to integrate pharmacists into their services.

The trial was announced today by the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt at PSA17, PSA’s national conference.

Both PSA and NACCHO thank the Minister for supporting this innovative project that will improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This practical new trial measure has strong stakeholder support and there is growing evidence pharmacists employed by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) can assist to increase the life expectancy and improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

PSA and NACCHO celebrate the Federal Government’s initiative to implement these important reforms and to further investigate the development of new funding models to help close the gap between the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said disparities in the health between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are confronting.

“For too long Aboriginal people have suffered shorter lifespans, been sicker and poorer than the average non-Indigenous Australian, however, highly trained pharmacists have a proven track record in delivering improved health outcomes when integrated into multidisciplinary practices,” Ms Turner said.
“Strong international evidence supports pharmacists’ ability to improve a number of critical health outcomes, including significant reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol and improved diabetes control. A number of studies have also supported pharmacists’ cost-effectiveness.

“Some ACCHOs have already shown leadership in the early adoption of pharmacists outside of any national programs or support structures. NACCHO and PSA are committed to supporting ACCHOs across Australia to meet the medicines needs in their communities by enhancing support for those wishing to embed a pharmacist into their service.”

PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson said having a culturally responsive pharmacist integrated within an Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) builds better relationships between patients and staff, leading to improved results in chronic disease management and Quality Use of Medicines.

“Integrating a non-dispensing pharmacist in an AHS has the potential to improve medication adherence, reduce chronic disease, reduce medication misadventure and decrease preventable medication-related hospital admissions to deliver significant savings to the health system,” Dr Jackson said.
“Additionally, pharmacists integrated within an AHS have a key role to play in assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients navigate Australia’s complex health system.”

“Local community pharmacies will be first approached to see if they are able to provide a pharmacist to work within the AHS according to service requirements of the AHS. If they are unable to or this is not accepted by the AHS in line with principles of self-determination, then the AHS may employ a pharmacist directly.”

A range of stakeholders, including the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, will be on the advisory group. This trial has been funded through the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement Pharmacy Trial Program. PSA and NACCHO wish to credit the Pharmacy Guild of Australia for supporting such an important initiative. This trial aims to improve equity of access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and further demonstrate the fundamental role that community pharmacists play in primary health care, strengthening the future for all pharmacists and contributing to a sustainable health system.

For more information:

Andre Daniels, PSA Communications Manager, 0487 992 175

Julian Fitzgerald, NACCHO Communications Officer, 0413 982 224