When we talk about improving access to health care for the greatest number of Australians, thoughts usually turn to the spread of hospital facilities and medical practices.
But for the majority of us, the most common and frequent health care provider we use is the local pharmacy.
Assessing just how ‘local’ – and therefore, accessible – those services are, is a question that the Pharmacy Guild of Australia commissioned MacroPlan to research.
The results have been very positive, showing that current spatial distribution of pharmacies across the country provide a very high level of access for Australian health care consumers.
In the capital cities, the study showed the average resident is located one kilometre from the nearest pharmacy, while 95 percent of consumers are no further than 2.5 kilometres from a pharmacy. And outside the capital cities, country residents are just 6.5 kilometres on average from the nearest pharmacy, with 72 percent having a pharmacy within 2.5 kilometres.
The positioning of pharmacies is a result of the Location Rules which form part of the Agreements between the Guild and the Federal Government.
Referring to MacroPlan’s research, distinguished economist Professor Henry Ergas, said that community pharmacy regulation delivers significant benefit to consumers and tax payers.
The analysis undertaken by MacroPlan involved geo-coding and mapping of all pharmacies across Australia, and incorporated socio-demographic characteristics of the population across all urban and regional areas, with a focus on the over 65’s age cohort and low-income households.
MacroPlan also analysed the clustering of pharmacies and medical centres.
In an attempt to understand the macro-level implications that might result from changes to the existing pharmacy location rules, MacroPlan proposed some scenario modelling, including scenarios where all rules are abolished and also where certain rules remain.
Such modelling, which MacroPlan conducts for many clients, provides a foundation for strategy and policy initiatives.
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