Federal Government to remove common medicines from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

News

  • Registered nurses should be on duty 24/7, says Legislative Council

Cases

  • Calvary’s “exclusive dealing” clauses removed

Federal Government to remove common medicines from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

The Federal Government is set to remove 17 common over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and aspirin) from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 January 2016.  According to Health Minister Sussan Ley, the removal of the items from the Scheme will save patients and taxpayers approximately half-a-billion dollars over five years. The changes seek to address the inconsistencies in the Scheme that see many concessional patients with a prescription for common medicines paying higher prices than if they purchased them over-the-counter.

To view the Media Release, click here.

News

Registered nurses should be on duty 24/7, says Legislative Council

The NSW Legislative Council has conducted an inquiry into the role registered nurses play in the State’s aged care facilities.

Based on research, submissions from key stakeholders and three public hearings, the report focuses on:

  • current legislation;
  • the growing level of care required by residents in aged care facilities by registered nurses;
  • concerns about State-wide mandates and regulation; and
  • the possible way forward.

The report recommends retaining the requirement that a registered nurse must be on duty in a nursing home at all times, with exemptions allowed on a case-by-case basis under strict regulation.  Other recommendations include minimum staffing ratios to accord with the higher level of care needed, a licensing body for workers in the industry and incentives for nurses in rural areas.

NSW is currently the only State to require a registered nurse on every shift in a high care facility.  However, the Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Act 2015 (Vic) received Royal Assent on 13 October 2015 and establishes a minimum number of nurses per number of patients in specified wards or beds, recognising that nursing workloads impact on the quality of patient care.

To view the full report, click here.

To view the recommendations, click here.

To view the Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Act 2015 (Vic), click here.

Cases

Calvary’s “exclusive dealing” clauses removed

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has brought an action against Little Company of Mary Health and Calvary Health Care Riverine Ltd (Calvary) for “exclusive dealing” by limiting where medical professionals in Wagga Wagga could be employed.

Calvary’s by-laws contained provisions regulating medical practitioners’ use of their facilities.  These specifically purported to strip practitioners’ accreditations if they practiced elsewhere, meaning that medical practitioners could not form competing surgeries and new entrants were deterred from entering the market.  This was amplified by the regional nature of the area.

Calvary gave an undertaking to the Federal Court to remove the relevant clauses; a measure that the ACCC says will enable stronger competition within the market.

This case demonstrates the ACCC acting on its promise that compliance in the medical and health sector will be a priority in 2015.

To view the ACCC’s press release, click here.