Pharmacy peak warns of aged care medicine ‘crisis’

One in three community pharmacies will stop providing services to residential aged care homes if the 60-day dispensing scheme goes ahead, claims the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

One in three pharmacies will stop providing services to residential aged care homes if the federal government goes ahead with its 60-day medication dispensing scheme, claims the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

When the industry peak surveyed more than 500 community pharmacists around the country, it found 36 per cent would pull out of the residential aged care sector altogether if the 60-day dispensing scheme continued.

Under the policy – which will come into play on 1 September – patients will have access to 60 days’ worth of medicine for each script. Consequently, fees paid by the government each time a pharmacist dispenses subsidised medicines will be halved.

Trent Twomey

As a result, Pharmacy Guild national president Trent Twomey said aged care facilities would have to charge patients for the services pharmacies provided.

“The Albanese government is unfairly forcing a huge new cost on aged care residents. This will be a crisis for aged care with our most vulnerable Australians forced to pay for a policy change that doesn’t benefit them.”

Medicines are currently delivered to aged care residents in the form of dose administration aids or Webster packs by community pharmacists for free.

According to industry and government data this free service costs approximately $15 per resident per week. Which means, says the Guild – post 1 September – residential aged care residents could be charged at least $800 per year.   

“We are calling on the Albanese government to pause the rollout of 60-day dispensing, sit down and consult with community pharmacies and aged care providers to ensure no resident or pharmacy is worse off,” said Mr Twomey.

“Complete rubbish.”

Meanwhile, speaking to Sky News on Thursday, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler rubbished the Guild’s claims that residents would have to pay $800 for their Webster packs.

Mark Butler

Mr Butler said such a scenario couldn’t occur “because facilities are funded to do that through the aged care system, not through the pharmacy sector. So facilities are funded to do it. It’s very clear in the principles for aged care facilities, they are actually prohibited from charging residents for the packaging of their medicine, which is usually through Webster packs.

“So I mean, I’m sure the Pharmacy Guild knew this … but in spite of knowing all of that, they proceeded with this scare campaign directed at the most vulnerable members of our community. It was complete rubbish.”

Australian Ageing Agenda asked the Pharmacy Guild to clarify its claims but received no reply.

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Tags: 60-day dispensing, mark butler, pharmacy guild, trent twomey,

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