Cuts to medicine subsidies will delay hospital discharge. Picture: iStock
Cuts to medicine subsidies will delay hospital discharge. Picture: iStock

Secret cuts to subsidised medicines

PATIENTS who need medicines when they are discharged from hospital could be waiting around for hours as a result of a secret cut to hospital pharmacies made in the federal budget.

The Morrison Government has slashed by $44 million a year the amount it pays hospital pharmacies for dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines in a hidden budget cut.

Hospital pharmacists say the cut will mean 500 fewer pharmacists can be employed in public and private hospitals and this could add to the delays patients face when they are discharged from hospital and require medicines.

 

There will be fewer chemists to dispense hospital medicines, less access to complex medicines management, less counselling about how to get off addictive opioids, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia has warned.

The cuts to hospital pharmacy contrast to the $215 million extra paid to community chemists in the budget for doing no extra work.

To protect the profits of community pharmacists the government has also refused to act on the recommendation of its independent advisory committee to introduce scripts lasting for two months that would have saved patients $240 a year and taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Morrison Government has slashed by $44 million a year the amount it pays hospital pharmacies. Picture: iStock
The Morrison Government has slashed by $44 million a year the amount it pays hospital pharmacies. Picture: iStock

The hidden budget cut was badged "The Improving Access to Medicines".

"Rather than quietly cutting funds to the people who are experts in medicine management in acute settings, the government should be increasing support for hospital pharmacies to ensure that, as more and more complex medicines are added to the PBS, they can be used optimally and provided to more patients as effectively as possible," SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels said.