A question of safety


Leading pharmacy groups are set to join in talks to formulate a joint safety policy, say Chris Freeman and Leanne Wells

Next week will see the convening of a Strategic Stakeholder Forum in Canberra, six weeks after the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council declared Medicines Safety and the Quality Use of Medicines the 10th National Health Priority Area.

Here, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and Leanne Wells, CEO of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) discuss the objectives of the forum.

Next week, we will convene a group of policy, consumer, clinical and research leaders, with expertise in medicines safety and quality use of medicines, to ‘think differently’ about medicines use.

The goal of the consortium, which includes the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA), NPS MedicineWise, the University of Sydney, and Monash University, is to begin to develop an action plan to significantly reduce the startling figures around medicines misadventure in Australia.

Each year 250,000 Australians are hospitalised and another 400,000 present to emergency departments as a result of medication errors, inappropriate use, misadventure and interactions – half of which could have been prevented.

The healthcare costs associated with medicine-related hospital admissions are $1.4 billion annually.

Beneath the black and white statistics is an incalculable human toll. Hours, days and years are lost to illness, pain and grief every time a medicine, or lack of medicine, hurts rather than heals.

With Medicines Safety and the Quality Use of Medicines now Australia’s 10th National Health Priority Area, now is the time for stakeholders representing the breadth of health care to  join forces to co-design a plan for improving the quality and safe use of medicines in Australia.

The Strategic Stakeholder Forum will help identify early actions health professionals, peak organisations, and governments can take to reduce harm from medicines.

It is often quoted that ‘vision without action, is just a dream’.

By pooling medicine safety expertise to cooperatively identify and agree on initial priority areas, we stand united and committed to ensuring this pivotal moment translates into meaningful and sustained improvements in the safety and care of Australians.

Associate Professor Chris Freeman and Leanne Wells

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