‘It is about keeping pharmacists alive.’


Pharmacists Mohamed Kaoud and Mahmoud Galal have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling for help with both protecting and recognising the profession

AJP has published their letter in full below.

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to address the impact of COVID-19 on pharmacists in Australia.

As pharmacists we are concerned about the lack of support and resources provided to pharmacists during this pandemic.

Pharmacists have always been at the front line of health care as we provide our services sincerely to our country and local communities.

Without pharmacists no member of the community will be able to access any medication. This is even more relevant during this pandemic.

However despite this the current decisions that have been made regarding pharmacies express that more value has been given to the pharmacy as a business and provided little value to the safety and welfare of the pharmacists themselves.

Although pharmacists are health professionals and are eager to serve our community during this trialling time we also have families. We also care for the safety of the loved ones that we return home to everyday after our shifts. As a result, we are strongly requesting Government support and procedure enforcement to protect us and our families.

Firstly, we request that adequate protection is distributed to all pharmacists and their staff.

This may include full body/face protective gear and/or enforcing pharmacies to barricade medication and other over the counter items from customers with transparent curtains/protective barriers.

This will allow pharmacists to continue to council and serve customers in a safe manner and will reduce the contamination of the items in the pharmacy. Please see examples [below].

Secondly, although the latest decision in NSW to extend the authority for emergency supply of medication without a prescription has always been welcome by pharmacists, proper recognition and resources must be provided. Pharmacists should be given an individual provider number.

As pharmacists with 23 years of collective experience our wages have not increased during our employment and there have been no opportunities for career development in this field of work in community pharmacies.

Pharmacists are often missed from any benefits and their skills are not properly recognised and rewarded. As medication experts, pharmacists should be compensated or reimbursed for the additional health care services and not just paid as an hourly retail worker.

If we do not implement these changes and the pharmacist are infected with COVID-19 this will result in dire consequences. The obvious impact may be that the pharmacy will be forced to shut down as it is well known that the pharmacy cannot legally operate without a pharmacist. This will reduce access to medication nationwide including life-saving medication.

We will find that the virus will not be the only cause of death during this pandemic. The virus may also rapidly spread to other customers who may have comorbidities and are vulnerable to infection.

These ideas are not just about keeping pharmacies open, it is about keeping pharmacists alive, healthy and functioning enough to help our community during this pandemic.

They will also help reduce the rate of contamination and ensure pharmacists feel safe to return home to their loved ones.

Image 1. Example of protective gear for pharmacists.

Image 2. Example of transparent barrier between pharmacist and customer.

Image 3. Snapshot of a transparent barricade/curtain in the pharmacy.

Most Respectfully,
Mohamed Kaoud
Mahmoud Galal

Mohamed Kaoud works in community pharmacy in NSW, while Mahmoud Galal works in community pharmacy in Queensland. Mr Galal also has a background in hospital pharmacy.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Kevin Hayward
    30/03/2020

    Well said, prompted me to write to my own MP, ,,,,

    Re Visiting patients in their own homes

    I am writing to ask you to raise an urgent matter with the Hon Minister for Health.

    As an accredited consultant pharmacist, the current Medicare and 6CPA business rules still require me to visit patients in their own homes, to assess their medication needs/risks.

    My patient group is mainly vulnerable, elderly, recent hospital discharges and chronic disease.

    I urgently ask you to allow us to access telehealth options afforded to other primary healthcare providers, before one of us or our patients becomes compromised.

    Thank you.

    Regards

    Kevin

    KG Hayward
    CertD32/33 CertTAE GradCertTESOL DipMgt DipLdrMgt DipComServ BSc(Hons) MSc(Exon) AACPA JP(Qual)
    Accredited Consultant Pharmacist, Certified Educator, Director Medicines Management Services Pty Ltd

  2. Philip Smith
    31/03/2020

    Well said.
    Not just pharmacist, support staff are also in front line and getting paid less than you can now sitting at home in safety or stacking a supermarket shelf.

    I have heard of casuals not wanting shift. Why put yourself and your family at risk for less than $24 an hour?

    Hazard pay needs to be introduced to encourage employment or some form of tax incentive.

    Locum services calling out, but haven’t seen hazard pay rates like $90 an hour for pharmacist. Like working in an underground mine or oil rig.

  3. George Papadopoulos
    31/03/2020

    Great to see this pharmacist speaking out.

    In light of the Kaletra/hydroxychloroquine trial: One other thing governments are not thinking of: there is no trial on anything to reduce transmission and/or severity of symptoms in health care workers.

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