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Greens seek commitments over Aboriginal Health Services and the PBS

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 11 Oct 2011

The Australian Greens have called for the Government to make changes to the program that supplies PBS medicines to Aboriginal communities.

The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee has today reported on their Inquiry into the effectiveness of special arrangements established under section 100 of the National Health Act for the supply of PBS medicines to remote area Aboriginal Health Services (AHS).

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert chaired the Committee Inquiry and said today the Greens would pursue the Government over the report’s recommendations, after previous reviews into the scheme had been ignored.

"It concerns me that the recommended changes made to this scheme by previous reviews have not been implemented. I believe this has led to some elements of the Section 100 provisions not being as effective as they could be," Senator Siewert said today.

"We know that the Section 100 provisions have increased the accessibility of medication to Aboriginal people, but a lack of clinical assessment means we don't know how effective these measures have been for improving patient health.

“Are these provisions helping in ‘closing the gap’? We need to know if increasing the provision of medication is having a positive impact and if it is not, we need to look at additional options for improving health outcomes.

“I am very concerned by the lack of any universal process for labelling and recording medications. The lack of standards and practices around labelling creates the potential for confusion and can lead to the misuse of medication. This can ultimately be a contributing factor in ineffective or harmful medical treatment.

"The fact we are relying on hand written labels in this day and age is ridiculous and I believe the Government should urgently act on the Committee's recommendation that a standardised labelling system be implemented.

"The Committee has also recommended that steps are taken to ensure AHSs are able to have access to an in house pharmacist, to improve their ability of offer quality use of medication.

"An important longer term goal is to establish a consultative body to guide improved service delivery and assistance for AHSs.

"I will be pursuing the Government over the recommendations the committee has made in this report,” Senator Siewert concluded.

You can read the report on the Community Affairs Committee website.

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