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Thursday, 25 September 1997
Page: 8517

Mr NEVILLE —My question is addressed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. I refer to the results of a trial conducted last year which demonstrated that the difficulties many chronically ill veterans experience with their medications could be substantially reduced by a medication review conducted by an accredited pharmacist. When will this medication review service become available to veterans in my electorate of Hinkler?

Mr BRUCE SCOTT —I thank the member for Hinkler for his question and also acknowledge his great interest in the veteran community not only in his own electorate but more broadly across Australia. I am pleased to inform the member for Hinkler that medication reviews will now be available to at risk veterans in his own electorate. The first pharmacist accredited to provide this service in Australia is, in fact, in Bundaberg in the federal electorate of Hinkler. She was signed up only yesterday. I am sure that when the member goes back to his electorate he is going to be making sure that there is a little bit of publicity about the fact that a pharmacist in his electorate in his own home town is the first accredited in Australia.

Veterans identified by their local doctors as being at risk of medication misadventure can be referred to this pharmacist for a compre hensive medication review and, of course, at no cost to the veteran. The review identifies existing and potential problems with the veteran's medication and provides, importantly, ongoing monitoring of the veteran's use of medication. The aim of the program is to ensure that veterans receive the best results they can from the medication that they use. With the administrative arrangements for the program now in place with the department, the department has invited accredited pharmacists to sign a deed of agreement and, in so doing, make the service available to at risk veterans throughout Australia.

We know from the trial that was conducted last year that this program can produce outstanding results. In one example, a veteran involved in the trial had his required number of medications reduced from 19 to 14. In his case they were identified as duplication of medication, confusion over some of the medication that he was prescribed to take and others counterbalancing some of the drugs that had been prescribed. This is just one program that identifies how this government is encouraging an expanded relationship between the Department of Veterans' Affairs, doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers in our community.

I urge all members of this House to encourage pharmacists in their own electorates to participate in this program because I think we all agree that this nation owes a great deal to our veteran community. I would urge you to look at this program and talk to pharmacists in your electorate. It is going to promote better health for the veterans of this nation. And what could be more rewarding than that?