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New strategic direction for pharmacy services

2 December 2004

Consultation on new strategic direction for pharmacy services in Hawke’s Bay

At its monthly meeting yesterday, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board members recommended for consultation, a new strategic approach to the development and funding of pharmacy services in Hawke’s Bay. (Refer to Board Report attached as Appendix 1)

General manager of planning and funding, Sue Peacock, said the District Health Board was responsible for ensuring the best value for every dollar spent on health services, including pharmacy services, and believed there were ways of working smarter which would improve the health of Hawke’s Bay people.

“We put forward some innovative ideas for the Board to consider, and will be discussing these in more detail with pharmacists, GPs, rest-home owners, specialists and other stakeholders over the next few months.

Mrs Peacock said the DHB was keen to ‘work with the willing’ and that meant working with pharmacists who were keen to explore different ways of working, and in different settings.

“There are exciting opportunities ahead, and we see a very positive future for pharmacists wanting to develop their career and work to improve the health of Hawke’s Bay families,” Sue Peacock said.

“At the moment we are spending about $9.2m each year for pharmacists to dispense medications, and with the growth in demand, this is not sustainable in the long term. We believe technology, combined with well-trained pharmacy technicians can free up pharmacists from some of the more routine tasks such as counting pills and putting labels on bottles. We would like to utilise pharmacists skills, university training and expertise in areas where they can have a more direct and significant impact on the health of Hawke’s Bay people.

“In the long term, we see fewer retail pharmacies in Hawke’s Bay; our vision is for pharmacists to come out from behind the shop counter, and practise their craft in communities where there is high need. This could include pharmacists working with individuals in communities such as Flaxmere and Maraenui as well as working with older people. In the future, pharmacists could be a member of a Primary Health Organisation working alongside other health professionals as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

“We know that around a third of all hospital admissions of older people are related to problems with their medications, which is why we’d like to see pharmacists dedicated to working alongside rest-home staff and doctors to ensure residents’ medications are reviewed at least annually, and to ensure that residents are on the most appropriate medications.

“Another initiative we’re keen to explore is ‘one stop’ hospital dispensing. This would see patients leaving hospital with all their medications, rather than a prescription they would then have to collect from a chemist shop.

“The benefits of such a scheme would enable a hospital-based pharmacist to provide patient education (regarding when to take their medications, how it worked, any side-effects etc) and there would be more opportunity for patients and their families to ask questions about medications before discharge. By having medications, rather than a prescription to be dispensed at a later date, there was a much higher rate of continuity with medication regimes.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board chief operating officer, Ray Lind, said Healthcare Services had recently appointed a pharmacist to work in the DHB’s mental health and addiction service to work alongside clinicians prescribing medications. He said as well as increasing the effectiveness of medications, there had been an unexpected bonus of around 30% savings in the cost of medications for the service.

“That’s money that can be put into other front-line services, and that’s good news for Hawke’s Bay people,” Sue Peacock said.

“We believe there are better ways of funding and developing pharmacy services, and we will be looking to those who work in the sector to provide feedback on how we can progress some of the initiatives outlined at yesterday’s Board meeting,” Sue Peacock said.

ENDS

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