The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is calling on the NSW Government to introduce funded Rapid Antigen Testing for pharmacists and their staff.
PSA says as frontline healthcare workers, the welfare of pharmacists affects the health and welfare of the community.
By introducing Rapid Antigen Testing for pharmacists and their staff, pharmacists will be able to monitor their workforce more closely and get back-to-work sooner after a potential workplace Covid-19 exposure.
“As we move into a new phase of the pandemic with significantly higher case numbers, Rapid Antigen Testing will need to play a significant role in reducing isolation periods of pharmacists and identifying infection prior to onset of symptoms in high-risk settings,” says PSA NSW Branch President, Chelsea Felkai.
PSA says this approach is desperately needed in rural areas with many regional communities already facing significant workforce shortages.
“They do not have the resources or flexibility to cope when employees need to isolate for extended periods. Given that PCR test results are currently taking five or six days to be returned, this potentially closes a pharmacy for an entire week.
“With community pharmacies being one of the most frequently listed public exposure sites, pharmacy employees in hot spot areas face growing concerns about contracting Covid-19 and taking it home to their families.
“Pharmacists have done a great job in protecting their staff and the community from exposure to Covid-19 in community pharmacy, by wearing of PPE and practicing distancing measures. Rapid Antigen Testing is another vital tool to further protect pharmacy staff and ensure pharmacies remain open to service their communities.
“Rapid Antigen Testing can also be used as additional surveillance testing in areas of sustained community transmission. Currently this would be akin to Sydney’s LGAs of concern and regional outbreak areas such as Dubbo, Bourke and Broken Hill.
“But as we move into Phase B and Phase C of the reopening plan, where case numbers are much higher, there is a significantly greater need for surveillance testing of health care workers including pharmacists,” says Ms Felkai.