If you have diabetes and live in Australia, it is highly likely that at some point you would have received some information, support and/or education from Diabetes Australia.

These services range from the provision of information via websites, blogs, magazines, information sessions and webinars. They also involve activities such as camps for children with type 1 diabetes, peer support groups, targeted information sessions which look at issues including men’s health, women’s health (including the very important topic of pre-conception planning and care), programs for young people with diabetes, programs for older people with diabetes, including those in nursing homes, working with culturally and linguistically diverse groups, delivering programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the training of health professional training.

More? Well, there is also a huge body of advocacy work – both at an individual and policy level – that takes place, as well as representation on expert panels and working groups.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Government has signed the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA). This agreement covers the supply of PBS medicines and, more broadly, pharmacy remuneration for dispensing subsidised medicines.

A significant change in 6CPA from previous agreements is that from July 2016, NDSS products will be distributed through the pharmacy wholesaler distribution network. This is where it starts to affect people living with diabetes.

Basically, the NDSS is broken into two parts. There is the product supply and delivery component and then the support services component. The latter is where all those things I listed earlier in this post fall.

Okay – let me get the disclaimer palaver out of the way. I work for Diabetes Victoria (formerly Diabetes Australia – Vic). I also have a national role where I work for Diabetes Australia. I am a long standing member of the Diabetes Australia family – something of which I am incredibly proud. My work involves providing information and support services to people living with diabetes in Victoria, and managing a national project about young people and diabetes. I am a spokesperson for the organisation – especially about diabetes technology and social media. I do all these things backed by a team of health professional and consumer experts.

Right – with that out of the way, I will also say that I have no more information than what is available in the public domain, so this is not an opportunity for me to be sneaky in trying to get people talking about this to promote Diabetes Australia’s work. That’s not what this is about. This is about what it means to people with diabetes living in Australia. Because I am one of those people.

The 6CPA clearly outlines that product supply and delivery (that is, all the consumables we use to help manage our diabetes) will now be distributed through the pharmacy network. As a person with diabetes, I am confident that this means that the supply of these products is protected (along with the subsidised prices) and that I won’t be expected to pay more for my strips or pump supplies.

But what about ongoing education and support services? Diabetes Australia has a long history of providing evidence-based information. In recent years, there has been a very strong focus on patient-centred care, and most programs now have some sort of consumer input. Engaging people living with diabetes is considered just as important as engagement with healthcare professionals. I know this is true – I am frequently asked to either be a consumer rep, or (perhaps most pleasingly) assist with finding someone to be a consumer rep.

The provision of diabetes information needs to be done by people who ‘get’ diabetes. I am a really strong believer of this. I believe it to be true of all health conditions – there need to be experts (and that doesn’t only include clinical experts) at the helm. And there needs to be a strong link to the community.

These services Diabetes Australia provides change lives – I hear that every time I speak with a parent whose kid has been to a camp. I heard that – repeatedly – on Saturday at the Diabetes Expo where I was emcee.  I hope this carries on.

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