The recently released National Commission of Audit has been met with hostile reception from the healthcare industry, particularly from the pharmaceutical sector, as its recommendations threaten to further complicate an already complex profession.
According to a May 1 statement from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), one of the recommendations of the Commission of Audit report is to deregulate the community pharmacy sector. Grant Kardachi, national president of the PSA, said that while he appreciated the government’s need to take action on its debt, the Commission of Audit’s recommendation is off target.
“Deregulating community pharmacy would only serve to narrow service provision by pharmacists and ensure that price rather than patient health outcomes are the short-term drivers of health service delivery,” he urged.
“At present, pharmacists are the most accessible health professionals and this is something we must preserve.”
He added that the approach adopted by the Commission “will over time add to the cost of the health system”.
Mr Kardachi’s main concern was that pharmacists would be left with less ability to provide the professional healthcare services that Australians so heavily depend on. Instead of undermining the industry through deregulation, caps and price disclosure, Mr Kardachi suggested the government should invest in greater support for community pharmacists.
“We are encouraged to see the Commission of Audit wanting to give pharmacists opportunities to provide a greater range of services for their customers, and we look forward to seeing further detail of those opportunities,” he stated.
Should the Commission’s recommendations be implemented, they are likely to have serious implications on Australia’s pharmaceutical industry. In particular, initiatives such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme could be impacted, giving those in the industry plenty to think about in the near future.