The Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia have welcomed a Queensland parliamentary inquiry’s recommendations that will lead to pharmacists in the state operating to the full extent of their training.
Guild Queensland Branch President Trent Twomey says the move would give Queenslanders better access to health services across the state, relieving pressure on GPs and emergency departments.
“Research shows there are many benefits to implementing this move, bringing Queensland into line with other states and countries,” he said.
“It will make it easier for Queenslanders to get treatment by allowing pharmacists to use their full potential to administer vaccinations, to treat minor conditions and continue to dispense medicines already prescribed, saving patients repeat visits to a doctor.”
Mr Twomey adds that with 70 million visits annually to Queensland’s network of 1,100 community pharmacies, the measures would also deliver improved health outcomes for Queenslanders living in regional and remote areas.
He says recent reports that Australians are putting off GP visits because of rising healthcare costs along with the country’s ageing population highlight the need for changes to the current system.
The parliamentary committee that conducted the inquiry also examined aspects of pharmacy ownership, recommending the establishment of a Queensland Pharmacy Advisory Council, which would:
- Provide expert advice to the minister on ownership and premises standards, and would enhance the department’s capacity to proactively monitor and enforce the pharmacy regulatory environment.
- Comprise members appointed by the Minister with expertise in law, accounting, and business management and members representing the pharmacy sector and consumers.
- Be funded on a cost-recovery basis by the pharmacy sector (that is, no costs to be borne by government).
- Be consulted by the Department of Health on matters including, but not limited to, managing transfers of pharmacy ownership and changes to scope of practice for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants.
The Guild had supported the creation of a pharmacy council with the resources and powers of councils in all other jurisdictions – “bringing Queensland into line with the rest of the nation and better protecting Queenslanders”, according to Mr Twomey.
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Dr Shane Jackson said: “The current pharmacy ownership system supports patient safety and helps maintain public confidence in high-quality pharmacy services being provided in Queensland.”
The PSA also welcomed a recommendation for pharmacists to dispense emergency and repeat prescriptions.
“Any change in pharmacists’ scope of practice should be underpinned by appropriate credentialing and training,” Dr Jackson said.
“The inquiry’s recommendations are a step in the right direction, but there are still more opportunities to take advantage of pharmacists’ unique expertise to better support the health of all Queenslanders.
“Pharmacists are one of the most trusted and accessible health professionals in Queensland, but their skills have not been put to full use because legislation hinders some areas of practice.”