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The Productivity Commission says allowing pharmacists to dispense low-risk medications would save taxpayers’ money and free GPs to do more complex work (Bigstock)

Governments have created barriers to productivity across the nation’s burgeoning care economy by legislating innovation-stifling staff-to-client ratios and inefficient funding models in health care, the Productivity Commission warns. Source: The Australian. 

Another anchor on national productivity is health care professionals such as nurses and pharmacists being restricted from undertaking straightforward tasks such as some diagnoses and dispensing low-risk medications, which would save taxpayers’ money and free GPs to do more complex work, it says.

In its new five-year report, the commission also offers a policy solution to the significant shortfall in workers available to care for the nation’s frail old aged and people with disability, calling for a pilot of a new special permanent visa for overseas care workers.

The Advancing Prosperity report noted that “non-market services” including health, aged care, disability and education comprise a growing portion of the federal budget but are not being driven to innovate because the government is often both the primary funder and regulator.

The commission provided a range of recommendations to drive more efficient delivery of services in the care economy. One is having an adequate, suitably qualified and appropriately remunerated aged care and disability care workforce. It recognises some workers will have to come from overseas, at least until higher wages in the sector start to build a larger domestic workforce.

The commission notes that parts of the “non-market sector, including disability and aged care, are highly labour intensive, involving personalised services (where) it can be difficult to achieve big gains in labour productivity”.

But governments had not helped themselves by introducing policies that stifled productivity improvements, it said.

“These include innovation-inhibiting restrictions, such as minimum staff-to-client ratios that discourage consideration (let alone adoption) of labour-saving technology in the care workforce, and poorly designed activity-based funding models which reward outputs rather than outcomes in hospitals,” the commission said.


Give nurses and pharmacists a bigger role: Productivity Commission (By Stephen Lunn, The Australian)