Qld Guild backs full scope of practice report

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The Queensland branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is welcoming the findings of a Queensland Government report calling for an expansion of primary healthcare services offered by community pharmacists.

The report, `Unleashing the potential: an open and equitable health system,’ presents expert advice to the Queensland Government on “how best to harness the opportunities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic response to support the best possible health and healthcare for Queenslanders.”

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch President, Chris Owen, welcomes the report’s release and says community pharmacists are ready and willing to take part in seeing the recommendations put into action.

“One of the lessons out of the Covid-19 pandemic was that communities wanted to be able to seamlessly engage with multiple primary healthcare providers to receive the best care possible,” says Mr Owen.

“Community pharmacies are a critical part of primary healthcare with consumers visiting, on average, 18 times a year.” “In Queensland alone, we have seen almost 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccinations administered in community pharmacies since June 2021. Access to vaccines in the local community was crucial to achieving the high vaccination rate we’ve been able to achieve,” Mr Owen says.

Mr Owen also said enacting the report’s key recommendations, including “expanding pharmacist-administered vaccinations and prescribing” (Pg. 127, Final Report), would go a long way of alleviating the pressure on Queensland’s emergency departments.

“We’ve all heard the stories of the long queues and pressure on our hospitals,” says Mr Owen, “many of the non-urgent presentations to emergency departments include supply of repeat prescriptions, vaccinations and common ailments like acne, sunburn and muscle cramps – all of which could easily be dealt with at a local community pharmacy.”

“This report goes a step beyond this by calling for an expansion of vaccinations and the ability to prescribe some medications within community pharmacy. These findings are welcomed, and some are already in place in OECD countries like the UK, Canada and New Zealand.”

“There are also many examples of allied health and other practitioners who work to a fuller scope and prescribe medicines in Australia,” says Mr Owen, “These include nurse practitioners, optometrists, podiatrists, midwives, physiotherapists and dentists.”

“One of the issues for Queensland communities is the fact that many in regional and remote areas do not have access to a hospital or a GP but do have access to a community pharmacy.”

“More than 90% of metropolitan and 67% of regional Queenslanders live within 2.5km of a community pharmacy, so it makes sense to ensure that pharmacists are enabled to do all that we can to provide vital frontline health services to Queenslanders throughout the state,” says Mr Owen.

“For long-term health system reform, the community pharmacy network needs to be empowered to reduce unnecessary hospitalisations and ensure that all Queenslanders have access to world-class healthcare.” “We welcome the report and are committed to partnering with the Queensland Government to make it a reality.”

 A copy of the full report can be found here:https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/1143479/Unleashing-the-Potential-an-open-and-equitable-health-system.pdf