Aged care providers have been reminded of their responsibilities to enable care recipients the right to have their medication supplied by a pharmacy of their choice following reports of clients paying higher-than-normal fees for pharmaceuticals.

The Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, was prompted to write a letter to all providers yesterday highlighting the Quality of Care principles following a complaint came from a NSW Liberal MP on behalf of a constituent whose father was apparently paying too much for medication through a pharmacy contracted by his residential care provider.

The Sunday Telegraph reported speaking to one family whose father was charged an additional $450 per year for his medication because of “inflated prices charged by the contracted pharmacy”.

In the letter, Minister Wyatt said, “I understand that many aged care homes will have in place a contract with a pharmacist for the safe provision and ordering of pharmaceuticals. There is nothing in the Aged Care Act 1997 or associated principles that prevents this, however, all care recipients do have the right to have their medications supplied by a pharmacy of their choice and normal Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme arrangements, including accessing the safety net, will still apply.”

“Where a care recipient wishes to use a different pharmacy, you are expected to provide assistance to the care recipient in obtaining these pharmaceuticals. If there are additional fees involved in using the care recipient’s preferred pharmacist, these may be passed on to the care recipient, providing the aged care home first obtains the care recipient’s agreement, and provides them with an itemised statement of the fees.”

The story, published in the News Limited papers on Sunday, did not name the pharmacy or the provider.