Against the backdrop of the rising cost of GP visits for many Queenslanders, the start of public hearings at a state parliamentary inquiry this week should highlight the need to allow pharmacists to treat minor ailments, according to the Pharmacy Guild.
The Guild’s Queensland branch President Trent Twomey says community pharmacies are an important part of the health system that could be playing a bigger role to ensure all Australians are getting access to healthcare.
With more than one million people putting off seeing a doctor in one year because they could not afford it, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research, Mr Twomey says utilising the full scope of practice of local pharmacies would mean better healthcare options for the community when it came to treating minor ailments.
“With more demand than ever on our health system, an ageing population and rising chronic disease, Queensland’s 1,100 community pharmacists are ideally placed to meet that need,” he said.
“There has always been strong support for pharmacists to be the first port of call for minor ailments; it’s based on the trust in which pharmacists are held, and on their professional and ethical standards.
“Queensland’s pharmacy workforce of more than 14,000 should be mobilised to use their full scope; community pharmacies are highly accessible in terms of their opening hours, and broadening their scope would deliver better health outcomes for all Queenslanders.”
The Guild says allowing pharmacists to utilise their full scope of practice would allow pharmacists to provide much-needed services to patients, working with doctors and other healthcare professionals, by:
- Providing wider delivery of dose administration aids to enhance medicine adherence, particularly for aged Australians.
- Delivering a structured system of medicine reconciliation post-discharge.
- Continuing to dispense for stable long-term conditions.
- Supporting home delivery services.
The inquiry is also looking at aspects of pharmacy ownership, which, according to the Guild, will underline the need for a more transparent model of oversight and the establishment of an independent Pharmacy Council that would bring Queensland into line with other states.