Former SA chief pharmacist Steve Morris has taken over the helm of Australia’s national quality use of medicines organisation, NPS MedicineWise.
Mr Morris, who was previously second-in-charge at the UK’s National Prescribing Centre, took up the position as CEO of the government-funded NPS MedicineWise in September. He has worked in numerous clinical and leadership roles in the health sector and has special interests include quality use of medicines, evidence-based practice and electronic health systems.
Mr Morris replaces outgoing CEO Dr Lyn Weekes, who led the organisation since its inception 20 years ago. Under her leadership, NPS MedicineWise grew from a small operation focused on GP prescribing to a $48 million organisation expanding into areas such as specialist prescribing, and appropriate use of medical technologies, pathology tests and diagnostic imaging as well as Choosing Wisely campaigns.
The organisation has claimed that its activities have saved $650 million in government spending by reducing inappropriate prescribing and practices.
However the most recent Federal Budget included a 25% funding cut of $40 million over four years for NPS MedicineWise, with the government slashing about $12 million from its annual $44 million Department of Health funding by 2020.
In its most recent annual report, NPS MedicineWise said it had achieved $74 million savings for the PBS, from its programs in areas such as better prescribing for hypertension, asthma, opioids for chronic pain, osteoporosis and proton pump inhibitors. It also reported $23 million savings for the MBS from reductions in CT scans and ultrasound services. It noted that 80% of medical colleges and societies are now participating in Choosing Wisely.