Victorian pharmacists face ongoing barriers to health provision during COVID-19

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has made a submission to the Victorian Public Accounts and Estimates Committee inquiry into the Victorian health response to COVID-19.

The submission highlights the challenges faced by Victorian pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic – most recently, the inability to be able to provide medicines and care to residents in the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing towers during lockdown.

PSA Victorian President, John Jackson says that pharmacists practicing at nearby community pharmacies reported significant difficulties in providing medicines and care to people in locked-down towers.

“PSA understands that pharmacotherapy, as well as medicine supply, was centrally coordinated through the Royal Melbourne Hospital; however, residents have longstanding care relationships with nearby community pharmacies, particularly those who live with complex chronic health conditions.

“These pharmacies were open and available to provide care throughout the tower lockdowns and a number were available to provide 24/7 care and medicine supplies on demand.

“It is important to use the existing network of providers of pharmacy care and medicine supply when supporting people during the pandemic, including people subject to detention notices, those who are self-isolating on public health grounds or those requiring protective equipment,” says Mr Jackson.

Issues highlighted in the submission

The other issues highlighted in the PSA submission, include:

  • Amending regulations;
  • Stronger medicine related communications;
  • Better protection for pharmacist through access to PPE;
  • Additional penalties for those who physically or verbally abuse pharmacists.

“PSA acknowledges the Victorian Government’s strong health response to COVID-19 and policy decisions, public health orders and funding initiatives aimed at reducing infection rates,” adds Mr Jackson.

“There are, however, lessons to be learned. There have been short comings in the consultation with pharmacy groups, which led to gaps in the public health emergency orders and public health messages that created confusion for Victorians in accessing medicines, and more conqueringly risked medicine-related harm.”

‘Incredibly proud’ of the profession

Mr Jackson highlights that pharmacists are “essential workers” and provide vital healthcare for all in the community, including immunisations, essential medicines and other health supplies.

“I am incredibly proud of how the profession has stood up as frontline health professionals and cared for the community during the pandemic with [more than] 8000 pharmacists working in community pharmacies, hospitals, aged care facilities, general practice and beyond in Victoria.”

To read the submission, visit: psa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/31-July-2020-PSA-COVID-19-Victorian-Submission.pdf

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