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Eight month roll-over makes sense - Pharmacy Guild

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Eight month roll-over makes sense - Pharmacy Guild

The Guild is welcoming a variation to the current Pharmacy Services Agreement with the main feature being an eight month roll-over period. The current Agreement between DHBs and community pharmacies is due to expire on 31 August and the roll-over period will be from 1 September 2011 to 30 April 2012. The Guild understands the DHBs are offering an eight month roll-over to create breathing space during which two separate issues can be addressed - the overuse of weekly close control and the creation of a new pharmacy service for patients with long term conditions (LTC) living within the community.

The need to design a new service for LTC patients who currently, under the Pharmaceutical Schedule, are described "as frail or? infirm or? unable to manage their medication without additional support" is intended to be replaced with a service that addresses their needs using the expertise of professional pharmacists. "The community pharmacist has a key role to play in the delivery of quality medicines services. We want the Agreement to develop in such a way that the delivery of quality services is incentivised. We want to move away from the current focus on volume," Guild President, Karen Crisp, said today. "Any new service needs to be clear about the criteria for patient entry, specifications of the service and appropriate pricing. The extra time will allow us to get this done properly with a focus on patient well-being." Ms Crisp says it is vitally important that realistic remuneration levels are established to ensure that pharmacists are properly incentivised to provide the service. The extra time will also be used to address concerns about the overuse of weekly close control.

"In many cases, weekly close control is currently enabling people to stay in their own homes, out of hospital and out of rest homes. But we agree that the DHBs need to identify the overuse and address it. We welcome DHBs taking more time to work with prescribers around the best value approach to weekly close control and also monitor where these levels are unexpectedly high."

"We think it is a breakthrough to separate out the issue of overuse of weekly close control from the separate issue of designing a long term conditions service. We appreciate that funding links the two issues but we agree that they require different approaches." She says it has been apparent for some years that weekly close control is overused in some areas and the DHBs have found this a difficult issue to address under the current rules. "It is encouraging that DHBs are committed to working with prescribers about the likely changes to the rules during the roll-over period as well as actively auditing pharmacies that have high levels of weekly close control." "As a result, weekly close control can be reduced significantly so the practice only applies to patients who really need it, while saving the health system money. This will be a great help when it comes time to roll out a better service." Ms Crisp says the discussions around the Pharmacy Services Agreement have been challenging but rewarding because of the common sense outcome.

"It is especially pleasing that the DHBs are listening to community pharmacy and are taking a very constructive ?we can fix it? approach to ensuring the sector is sustainable for our members."

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