Following a series of mainstream media reports criticising pharmacy-issued sick notes, the PSA has confirmed they are within pharmacy’s scope of practice

While issuing absence from work certificates is within the scope of practice for pharmacists, they must comply with strict guidelines recognised by Fair Work Australia, the PSA has pointed out.

Responding to concerns raised by business and medical groups, PSA said pharmacists must follow these guidelines to enable them to issue certificates compliant with all relevant workplace laws.

PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson says issuing absence from work certificates is within the scope of practice of a registered pharmacist, provided they act within their competency and professional expertise.

“Pharmacists can only issue certificates in relation to conditions (illness or injuries) they are professionally qualified to assess,” Dr Jackson says.

“For pharmacists, the decision whether or not to issue a certificate must not be taken lightly. Certificates document the professional opinion of the pharmacist that a person is unfit for work for a period due to illness or injury.

“As the most accessible healthcare professionals in local communities, pharmacists provide this important service to reduce the impact of sickness by improving access for the individual patient and reducing costs to the Australian healthcare system.”

Released in 2010, the guidelines were jointly developed by PSA and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia about Issuing Certificates for Absences from Work, which are available to pharmacists. Under the guidelines, pharmacists are entitled and should charge a consultation fee for issuing a certificate.

“These guidelines have been successfully used by the pharmacy profession for more than eight years and they are very clear for pharmacists about only issuing an absence from work certificate for illnesses or injury that are within the scope of practice of a pharmacist,” Dr Jackson says.

The guidelines say: “Where the pharmacist believes that the illness or injury is not within his or her area of practice, they should not issue a certificate and should advise the person to seek a consultation with a medical practitioner or other registered health practitioner appropriate for the condition.”

The guidelines can be accessed here.

Related: Sick note attacks continue