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More government ‘buck-passing’ is delaying the introduction of real-time monitoring, says NSW Guild president

The NSW government is again placing patient lives at risk by delaying any moves to introduce a real-time prescription monitoring system, the state’s Pharmacy Guild president says.

In his latest column of the NSW Guild Bulletin, David Heffernan has reiterated his criticism of the government’s delays in the wake of the July 27 NSW Coroner’s Court recommendation to make real-time monitoring a priority. 

At the inquest into the death of 26-year-old Alissa Campbell, coroner Harriet Grahame outlined the difficulty medical practitioners had in obtaining a clear picture of her medical history and medicines use.

“As the inquest progressed it became increasingly clear that no one practitioner had a complete picture of her health needs or indeed her current medications,” the coroner said. “While some of the doctors prescribed a range and volume of medication that was acceptable in isolation, the total picture that emerged was disturbing.”

Speaking about the case, Mr Heffernan said it was “both saddening and disturbing to comprehend this tragedy could have been prevented, with a real-time monitoring system in place.”

“It is both infuriating and depressing that NSW must wait on a Commonwealth real time monitoring solution rather than take initiative in the way Victoria has done.”

Both the Guild and PSA state branches have been actively campaigning for some action in this area, to little avail to date.

Mr Heffernan said the state government had commissioned Deloitte to review real time prescription monitoring capabilities for NSW Health, and while this “appearance of action” was welcomed by the Guild, he said they would carefully monitor any future announcements.

“Victoria has done the heavy lifting for any state wishing to borrow policy,” he said. “To say NSW is committed to waiting for the Commonwealth appears as a mere excuse to pass the buck.”

NSW PSA president Peter Carroll had previously told AJP that they had “been advocating with the NSW Government to introduce a real time prescription monitoring system to prevent these deaths, along with a number of coroners’ reports indicating that such a system is needed.

“Unfortunately the current NSW Government has not introduced such a system. In fact, the NSW Chief Pharmacist has stated that a real time prescription monitoring system is ‘years away’.

“This is a completely unacceptable situation… “.

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