As community pharmacy expands its professional clinical service role, questions continue to be raised over the absence of national standards for private consultation rooms.
Speaking at the recent Pharmacy Connect conference, pharmacist Paul Jones said it was “frustrating that there is no Australia-wide standard for consult rooms”.
Jones (pictured), a NSW Guild councillor, is an owner of Moodies Pharmacy, Bathurst, NSW – winner in the professional services division of the Pharmacy of the Year Award 2015 – and of McCarthy’s Pharmacy, Orange, NSW: the 2016 GuildCare Professional Services Pharmacy of the Year.
He told Pharmacy Connect delegates that when redesigning the pharmacies to enhance their professional service capacity he had to develop his own standards based on those of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
“There are lots of things that need to be considered. For example, if you’re offering vaccinations, you need to have hard surface flooring. Yet I’ve seen pharmacy consult areas with carpet on the floor. This goes against health standards as it’s impossible to clean up spills, or to keep clean.”
While consult rooms are professional practice spaces, the approval and regulation of pharmacy premises are not covered by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
“These matters are the responsibility of pharmacy approval authorities in each state and territory,” said the Pharmacy Board of Australia. “They are not regulated under a national scheme”.
“While there are benefits in a national approach to development of guidelines, this is reliant on a framework that supports such an approach,” a Board representative told AJP.
“While the Board has developed guidance for pharmacists about specific practice that may occur in a private area such as a separate room in a pharmacy, the Board has not published guidance about the requirements for consulting rooms as such issues are the province of other responsible entities as outlined above”.
State and territory health departments may specify a range of requirements including the area of a pharmacy where vaccines are to be administered, the representative added.
A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said there is a QCPP consultation ‘space’ criteria.
“These guidelines are currently being reviewed as part of an overall update of QCPP documentation”.
PSA National President Joe Demarte said the society was currently reviewing the Professional Practice Standards (PPS), which “articulates the requirement for service environments to protect patient privacy and reflect the professional nature of the activities and services offered by pharmacists, regardless of the practice setting.
“PSA would expect that consulting rooms in community pharmacies across Australia adhere to these principles set out in the PPS.”