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Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Conference 2019

Read Minister Hunt's speech at the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia 2019 Conference

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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Thanks very much to Chris and Shane and (inaudible).

It’s very important for you to know, I get what you do and we’re going backwards on [inaudible] of course of this discussion. So when I get this privilege of launching the (inaudible) is we discussed a number of (inaudible) I really want to focus and move from what Chris was talking about to (inaudible) as we look for the future in three particular areas.

One is safety and probably you’ve (inaudible). Two, is services and in particular funding healthcare and home care and three is (inaudible) evaluation and monitoring side - the role of digital platforms in medicines, in prescriptions and in dispensers. And (inaudible), but also to help better health outcomes across the country.

And in order to do this I’d really- I’d like to set out three big things; the vision, the achievements but then the future partnership as we go forward.

In terms of the vision, the very simple goal is that we want to see pharmacists to be able to practice to their (inaudible). I believe in that deeply, it’s what I was schooled in growing up. But it makes absolute sense that if we have a group of highly trained medical and health professionals, that we should use the full range of those skills.

And it’s not just in this part of the health and medical sector, it’s in all the parts. And so that’s a critical step forward in terms of the vision. And you play that role within the community.

So then as we move forward (inaudible), the first part of what we do is you engage people with their medicine and so (inaudible) step back and look at the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme environment, and in many ways this has been the hallmark of my work and the government’s work right across the health sector.

(Inaudible) of all the things the public discusses with me there are two that stand out. If I’m in the street, you know, even at the beach, anywhere in the- around Australia in the community, people engage me (inaudible) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme because they can see what it means to them.

And that’s the message (inaudible) since we were elected to government, we have put on the list 2100 new (inaudible) and they can be new variants, (inaudible), they can be new forms of antibiotics or they can be medicines such as Kalydeco which was listed only on the weekend, $300,000-a-year medicine for beautiful young children between the age of 12 and 24 months with cystic fibrosis and this will transform their lives.

But you know the prices better than me.

Now, per script $40.30 or $6.50 if they’re a concession card holder. And to imagine that a medicine which would otherwise (inaudible) $300,000 (inaudible) or $6.50, that is a hallmark of a great society (inaudible). And you’ve been great advocates for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Our commitment, which I am reaffirming today, is that if the medical experts, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory (inaudible) recommends the listing of a medicine we will list that medicine.

(Inaudible) it hasn’t always been so. I won’t go into the history in which the dark moments like (inaudible) eight years ago now where they stopped keeping pace, but fortunately (inaudible) and nobody’s interested in you.

Instead of being seen as a burden to the system as it was at various times in Australia we now have a Prime Minister, a Treasurer and a Finance Minister who when they define what is (inaudible) from the (inaudible).

The single essential service to which they refer above all - all others is the medicines that you lot dispense via the PBS.

It’s a very interesting place, the pharmacy, to be. You are right at the top of the (inaudible) Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Treasurer in terms of what actually transforms lives for Australians.

So, that’s a moment for you to pause and reflect and think hang on, we’re doing something pretty important and we’re doing something pretty well.

So then as we- and in that, we’ve gone from 170 to over 200 million prescriptions a year and that will continue and I think that that’s a good thing. And we’re also looking to make sure that there’s balance around safety but it (inaudible) with yourselves.

So then as part of this, Chris referred to the seventh seat (inaudible). For the first time the PSA will be (inaudible) seventh seat.

That’s a conscious, careful decision and (inaudible) some things which under the Act are done (inaudible) but for all of those relative areas (inaudible) PSA will be not just a co-signatory but a critical part of the design in relation to the code of ethics, practices, and services which (inaudible).

And so I think that’s a really important thing that you have a seat at that table and that you are on the members’ roll, that from the perspective of what’s going to support pharmacists and what’s going to support patients, so really just critical stuff.

So then let me move to what we’ve been able to achieve together and along the way of course we begin with the (inaudible).

And when I came in, there was 600 million which had been notionally allocated (inaudible) between the Department of Finance and the sector, and we worked together across all of the different arms of the pharmacy community.

Guild and PSA, the pharmacists, and within departments to move on that completely, and that has led to new programs in terms of meds check, dose administration aid, things which actually make a difference as well as the fact that they have made a difference to remuneration of pharmacies.

I’ve also gone around and I’ll walk in unannounced to a pharmacy, have a chat to the pharmacist (inaudible). Once they realise I’m not actually the tax office the conversation improves.

(inaudible) not in trouble am I, but all up, that’s an average of about $20,000 a year of additional (inaudible) three-year period nearly $100,000 for particular pharmacies- or for the average pharmacy.

And that’s a very significant increase in the real remuneration as well as the degree of outcomes for (inaudible) important outcome.

Now, related to that of course is the (inaudible) and you’re all very involved in the (inaudible) program, and that includes the funding for Indigenous health. (Inaudible) adding in Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, which is fundamental to the very thing (inaudible) and other have talked about, the need to actually get quality discussions working up in remote areas (inaudible) populations.

(Inaudible) so GPs have a critical role, the health workers have a role but the pharmacists have a fundamental role. The same with the mental health trials you’re involved with and of course the (inaudible) which is a $20 million program that I think (inaudible) immensely (inaudible).

Then as we go forwards on this (inaudible), as difficult as (inaudible) stable environment. And that is what we.

(Inaudible) allow them have the certainty to deal with their plans so they know that they can plan, they can invest, and they can support their staff over the (inaudible).

Then the other thing so many of you are involved in- or a couple of you (inaudible) pharmacies but so many of you are involved in small businesses, and as government what we’ve tried to do here is with the instant asset write-off to $30,000 (inaudible) and tax rates for small businesses to put in place an environment which actually values and rewards small business for the (inaudible) number of hours that are actually put in.

And so the (inaudible) stakeholders is one way or another, either as an employee, or as having a share in the (inaudible).

But the dependents, or the liability of it - that’s a broader environment (inaudible) in the future and the partnership that we struck together.

Now, Chris, probably the most significant part of your speech was over focussed on the quality, and the thing which the PSA has sought and which (inaudible) has been making around the world, is the need for quality and safe use of medicines to be our national (inaudible) priority.

I am delighted to announce and confirm today that the Australian Government will now move through the Council of Australian Government’s process to make the quality in the state (inaudible) a national priority.

(Inaudible) and we will not stop until it is done. I need your help to make sure that each of the states and territories agrees to it. (Inaudible) the COAG, (inaudible) somebody’s (inaudible).

But you have a role in helping us get that ball across the line, but I’m fairly confident there won’t be any resistance, but we do need (inaudible) actually to do that as soon as possible.

At the highland, as we flesh out the vision of primary care over the course of the next decade, there are three interrelated parts.

We are doing a ten-year primary health care plan, and pharmacy will have a critical role in it. So, it’s about the (inaudible) in relation to general practice, but it’s also about (inaudible) in relation to the entire health system.

So I want to set your expectations, part of it today, there will be discussions and negotiations, and it will be a united plan that we’ll put out. And at the end of the day, it’s about making sure that we grow in a more constructive way, on the incredible assets you have.

Physical, but above all else, (inaudible) out there. So, it’s healthcare professionals who’re fully engaged by the government in helping (inaudible).

The second element of that is preventive health platform, and this is where you will have a huge leadership role in that family health plan and that’s also linked to what we’re doing in terms of (inaudible). So those three things we’re building together, and each of those will deliver very concrete, practical actions.

And as you know, in mental health, the challenge is between the initial consultation and the acute (inaudible) where of course we have Headspace for young people, we have gaps for people over the age of 24. And your work on that front will be absolutely critical in helping fuel Headspace, helping to get people to get to the right spot.

My vision here is to build the equivalent of Headspace for adults across the country. It’s the legacy that I want to leave, (inaudible) that is one of the absolutely critical things. And really, being the point of contact as the source of information, and I’m confident so that people (inaudible) because that's part of the problem.

People do not see health, still because of stigma which is not a fully resolved issue, then that would be a massive contribution to the (inaudible).

Now, aged care. We're currently going through the trial in the ACT (inaudible) partial vetting of pharmacists, in some ways (inaudible) there’s things that change on that front. So that may provide (inaudible) expand around (inaudible) people work to do. But that’s why we had that trial.

Lastly, I want to look at the bright future of Indigenous (inaudible).

I know the record (inaudible) magnificent participants. We had a 75 per cent (inaudible), 75 per cent (inaudible), and over 80 per cent of pharmacies that are involved, I would like to get to you 100 per cent.

And (inaudible) I encourage you to do that.

And over 90 per cent of the population who are engaged in (inaudible) helping me activate and understand not just disadvantaged (inaudible) but helping them to activate and understand is something that you can do. And you can have a really important role, of course.

If you can see what medications some did (inaudible) on the heart that will maintain a major difference of the sake of quality use of medicines.

Related to that, is the real partnership (inaudible). Commonwealth Park is done, rail road tracks have been laid, and we’re (inaudible) we now need the states to come on board and go right into all of the state and territory ministers to urge them to get on board this now, because we have laid the rail road tracks but there are no barriers.

And then (inaudible) striving to finish the final piece of the puzzle.

Very shortly, our framework will be completed, and I can announce today that we expect the National Australian Network to (inaudible) before the end of 2019. And that would be a very significant (inaudible).

So that’s the vision, which we have been developing in conjunction with Chris and Melinda, but all of you together.

So I want to acknowledge you and thank you and say that this really is an environment where pharmacy has its greatest potential to impact on national health plans of any time in the last century.

Have a great PSA 2019.



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