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Longer scripts will make GP visits cheaper: doctors

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has put forward its budget requests to the federal government, saying reform could save money and time.

MEDICINE STOCK Allowing a two-month supply of medicines to be provided will halve dispensing fees, GPs say.
March 27, 2023
By Tara Cosoleto
27 March 2023

Medicines must be cheaper and easier to access so doctors have more time for their patients, the peak body for GPs says.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners on Monday issued its call to the federal government, saying the May budget was an opportunity to act on much-needed reforms.

Those changes included extending the length of prescriptions and allowing a larger supply of medicines to be prescribed in one go.

A two-month supply would halve dispensing fees which already cost taxpayers $1.67 billion in 2021-22, college president Nicole Higgins said.

“Over 140 medicines could have an increased supply interval of two months, according to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, many for chronic conditions,” Dr Higgins said. 

“It will save money for individual patients, as well as significant savings for the overall health budget and taxpayers.”

Medicines should be accessible and affordable to all Australians but current laws were stopping that from being the case, Dr Higgins said. 

“We have a cost-of-living crisis and a health system crisis on our hands,” she said.

“People across Australia are feeling the crunch and struggling to access or afford the healthcare and medicines they need.

“These reforms are an easy way to help those most in need, including people who are older and those with chronic conditions who often need multiple medicines.”

Dr Higgins is also calling for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule prescribing system to be changed so GPs are free to treat patients instead of being stuck with paperwork. 

“If this system was updated and streamlined it would result in shorter consults, lower Medicare billings and GPs would have more time to spend with patients rather than on cumbersome administration,” she said.

Health Minister Mark Butler said a number of ideas had been put forward for the upcoming budget and any new measures would be made clear when it was announced in May.

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