How pharmacists can cut hospitalisations

A recent report showing that more than 179,000 Queensland hospitalisations were potentially preventable in 2017-18 has prompted a call for action from the Pharmacy Guild.

Responding to the recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report,1 the Guild’s Queensland Branch President, Professor Trent Twomey, said community pharmacists are highly trained, trusted and easily accessible to support patients across chronic, acute and vaccine-preventable conditions.

“A significant proportion of these potentially preventable hospitalisations are due to influenza,” he said. “We know that one in four people who are hospitalised with the flu have no underlying medical condition,”2 he said.

“Last year, trained Queensland community pharmacists administered over 200,000 flu vaccinations, helping to build ‘community immunity’ against the flu through vaccination.”

Professor Twomey said he believes more can be done to reduce preventable hospitalisations. Queensland, he added, is falling behind other states in terms of access to vaccinations.

“I call on the Queensland government to provide community pharmacists access to the NIP and lower the age of pharmacist vaccination to 10, in line with other jurisdictions, including a recent announcement [on proposals] in South Australia,” he said.

“Community pharmacies are highly accessible in terms of their opening hours and locations and provide support across a range of other potentially preventable hospitalisations including patients suffering from asthma, diabetes, COPD and nutritional deficiencies.”

According to Professor Twomey, the quickest way to take pressure off patients and hospitals is to allow pharmacists to work to their full potential. He offered the example of a patient being prescribed medication by a pharmacist immediately instead of having to wait for hours at an emergency department for antibiotics they may have had before to treat a urinary tract infection.

“The report makes it clear there is the potential for pharmacists to make the most of their training, reduce costs on the public health system and play a larger role in making sure Queenslanders have the best possible health system,” he said.

“The Guild looks forward to working with the Queensland government to provide the best care for all Queenslanders by supporting a community pharmacy network that continues to put patients first.

 

References

1.     AIHW 2019. Potentially preventable hospitalisations in Australia by age groups and small geographic areas, 2017–18.

2.     Australian Department of Health. Influenza epidemiology in patients admitted to sentinel Australian hospitals in 2016: the influenza Complications Alert Network 2018: www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdi4104-d.

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