The Senate has approved (23 June) the PBS reform package, which Health Minister Sussan Ley says will result in price ‘slashes’ to more than 2,000 brands of common medicines, some by as much as half, from October 2016

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Access and Sustainability Package will have a budgetary impact as well, saving taxpayers some $2 billion over five years (2015-2020).

Under the reforms, pharmacists will be able to discount the PBS co-payment for patients by $1.00. Investment in primary care programmes for patients will be doubled to $1.2 billion over the next five years.

Dr Kate Bolam

Lismore and Kyogle areas now have access to a new practitioner, Dr Kate Bolam, at the Lismore and Kyogle Family Planning Clinics, which provide sexual and reproductive health services to women and youth.

The Clinics specifically encourage youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people on low incomes.

Dr Bolam comes to the Northern Rivers from the NT where she has worked both as a GP and also for Family Planning NT. She also practiced as a Forensic Clinician at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Darwin, providing acute forensic and medical care to victims of sexual assault.

“I love having a subspecialty in sexual and reproductive health for many reasons”, Dr Bolam said.

“It gives me a unique opportunity to work with all ages of clients in an area that is often quite challenging and frequently changing."

Open all hours

The Australian Medical Association is urging the federal government to support its proposal for a new Pharmacist in General Practice Incentive Program (PGPIP) that would see non-dispensing pharmacists incorporated into general practice health care teams.

Announcing the scheme, AMA President, Assoc Prof Brian Owler spoke of greater efficiencies for general practices, better care for patients, new career opportunities for pharmacists, and significant Budget savings across the whole health system.

“Under this program, pharmacists within general practice would assist with things such as medication management, providing patient education on their medications, and supporting GP prescribing with advice on medication interactions and newly available medications,” he said.

Minister for Health, Sussan Ley

Australians will benefit from cheaper medicines, a more competitive pharmacy sector and greater investment in new medicines and patient support services, according to Health Minister Sussan Ley who this week announced a “balanced” package of pharmaceutical reforms on behalf of the Abbott government. 

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Access and Sustainability Package follows extensive consultations and “robust negotiations” across the pharmaceutical supply chain, which includes consumers, pharmacists, medicines manufacturers, wholesalers and doctors. 

The closure of the Labor-initiated After Hours GP Helpline, managed by the government’s HealthDirect scheme, will help fund a new payment model aimed at encouraging GPs to treat patients outside of business hours.

Announced by Health Minister Sussan Ley on 22 May, the new model will encourage practices to apply for a Practice Incentives Programme (PIP) after-hours incentive from the Federal Government.

The new model will “build on existing infrastructure and provide general practices with a nationally consistent, streamlined, less administratively burdensome way to receive funding for delivering after hours services”.