Community pharmacies leading the way in primary healthcare

Media Release 

Queensland Parliamentarians congratulated the state’s community pharmacists as The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch, held its annual dinner at Parliament House in Brisbane last night (9 September 2020).

The annual event brought together Queensland’s leading politicians from all parties, as well as the state’s community pharmacy leaders and key industry stakeholders to celebrate the integral role pharmacies continue to play as the world contends with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The event recognised the outstanding contributions that community pharmacies make. Attendees reflected on the year-to-date and praised the valuable service that community pharmacies continue to provide the Queensland community, particularly while on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland’s Branch President, Professor Trent Twomey, says that community pharmacists quickly embraced legislative, social and technological change in 2020 as the pandemic rapidly evolved, so they could better support local communities.

(L-R) Tim Roberts, Helen Whitehead, Elizabeth Whitehead

“New legislation introduced during the pandemic, thanks to the Queensland Government, ensured that community pharmacists could provide enhanced healthcare access, including substituting medicines that may have become unavailable due to stock shortages.

“Medicines substitution and the continuation of emergency provisions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme meant that no Queenslanders went without their medication throughout the pandemic.

“Image-based and electronic prescriptions also helped to provide seamless patient-centred care between primary healthcare providers.

“Amongst the pandemic, many community pharmacists also chose to register for the ground-breaking Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot to advance women’s healthcare in Queensland and help reduce 20,000 potentially preventable urinary tract and kidney infection hospitalisations1.”

Key addresses from Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, Hon. Steven Miles MP, reflected on the unprecedented year that was 2020, and the resilience and leadership shown by community pharmacists, who stepped up to help Queenslanders during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Pharmacies have an incredibly important role to play in our community. They are trusted. They are local. They are convenient.

“Queensland Health is glad to work closely with the Guild to take care of the community. From expanding vaccinations to emergency provisions to the Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot, electronic prescriptions and medications substitution – community pharmacies are there for Queenslanders.

Deb Frecklington, MP

“We’ll only be able to quickly and safely vaccinate Queenslanders against COVID-19 with the assistance of the community pharmacy network.”

Leader of the Opposition, Deb Frecklington MP, Liberal National Party (LNP) praised community pharmacists for their continued innovation and stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We all value our local pharmacy. There’s a need and desire for community pharmacists to do even more as primary healthcare providers. Thank you to all community pharmacists who continue to step up and make life easier for Queenslanders.”

The annual dinner recognised achievements with several awards presented on the night.

Helen Whitehead, former Epilepsy Queensland CEO, was recognised with an award for her outstanding contribution to the community. For 28 years, Helen assisted Queenslanders living with epilepsy by helping to reduce stigma and discrimination by raising community awareness and promoting understanding.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland, has been a supporter of Epilepsy Queensland for most of this time.

Also receiving an award was The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch, Strategy and Policy Manager, Tim Roberts, who was recognised for the hard work and dedication involved in the advocacy and success of the Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot Queensland, which launched in June 2020.

Queensland Branch’s Business Support Pharmacist, Elizabeth Whitehead, was also acknowledged for her role in the coordination and expansion of The Guild Corporate Vaccination Program, which offers a flexible, cost-effective solution for employers to enable their staff to be vaccinated against influenza at their local community pharmacy. The program has grown from vaccinating 559 employees in 2016 to 22,400 employees in 2020.

Community pharmacists are one of the most trusted primary healthcare professions2 and consumers are regularly visiting their local pharmacy 18 times a year on average3.

With 97% of Queenslanders living within 2.5km of their local community pharmacy, and 65% in regional areas4, Queenslanders will be supported with safe and convenient access to a future Covid-19 vaccine, when approved.

References: 

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2018. Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations In Australia By Age Groups And Small Geographic Areas, 2017–18, Data. [online] Available at: <https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/primary-health-care/potentially-preventable-hospitalisations/data> [Accessed 31 July 2020].
  2. Roy Morgan. 2017. Roy Morgan Image Of Professions Survey 2017: Health Professionals Continue Domination With Nurses Most Highly Regarded Again; Followed By Doctors And Pharmacists. [online] Available at: <http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7244-roy-morgan-image-of-professions-may-2017-201706051543> [Accessed 31 July 2020].
  3. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 2018. Expenditure And Prescriptions Twelve Months To 30 June 2018. Table 15(A). [online] Available at: <https://www.pbs.gov.au/info/statistics/expenditure-prescriptions/expenditure-prescriptions-twelve-months-to-30-june-2018> [Accessed 31 July 2020].
  4. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, 2016. Submission To Review Of Pharmacy Remuneration And Regulation. [online] Canberra, p.6. Available at:

    <https://www.guild.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/12957/guild-submission-to-review-of-pharmacy-remuneration-and-regulation-2016.pdf> [Accessed 31 July 2020].

Feature image: (L-R) Hon Steven Miles MP, Dr Jeannette Young, Professor Trent Twomey

Text and images by: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia

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