Despatches from the front line

white coat professional shouting into megaphone

What have our readers been saying about the key stories affecting pharmacy over the last week?

An uncertain future

Congratulations to Catherine Bronger and the leadership at the Pharmacy Guild for finally standing up to the short sighted bureaucrats in Canberra. They have no idea of what it is like to be a frontline health professional. Patients can expect to be restricted to their homes for the next 3 months, so the Government needs to allow pharmacist to make a greater contribution by removing unnecessary restrictions and paperwork to support patients isolated in their homes.

I was disappointed by the Federal Minister of Health’s response to a question about the reskilling of retired Doctor’s, Nurses and Pharmacists on the ABC yesterday. He seemed to intentionally omit Pharmacists in his response. This response suggests that he does not see the value of Pharmacists on the frontline. The Health Minister should be asked to clarify his views on the role of Community Pharmacy in the Covid pandemic.

If we are restricting the public to their homes, then we need to find ways to look after them. Doctors are reimbursed for telehealth, while pharmacists are not. Let pharmacists do more to help the Australian public by suspending unnecessary regulations and eliminating excessive red tape (like the documentation for PBS home deliveries). If Government can fund free childcare during the pandemic, why can’t they eliminate or at least reduce patient copayments?

Michael Ortiz

‘It is about keeping pharmacists alive’

Well said. And not just pharmacists, 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 a 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.

Philip Smith 

Call to come back

Is it appropriate if we are asking those over 70, or with chronic health problems, to get them to come into what is a potentially higher risk workplace? Unless you can provide a safe-ish working environment, eg out the back DAA packing, taking the phone queries etc. I would not be rushing to do this if it meant being a frontline pharmacist, if I was older.

I know it is an individual choice but we need to think of their safety in this matter very carefully too.

Anne Todd

PHNS ‘need to pull their socks up’

In spite of the awesome work being carried out by community pharmacists and their staff, and in spite of being the most visible health professionals in the Australian high street, the profession appears to be completely invisible to politicians and policy makers.

Kevin Hayward

The thought processing by GPs about the risk to pharmacy, pathology and radiology in giving sick patients paper forms defies belief. The e-prescription technology should have been turned on weeks ago – where is the sign off legislation?

Smart GPs have started their own companies and are doing it alone without the influence of government cyber police. Why aren’t e-prescriptions out in the public domain with telehealth and all of the other measures?

Karalyn Huxhagen



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  1. Nick Birnie

    No surprise Greg Hunt doesn’t understand the roles of our allied health family. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but he has no qualifications in health to my knowledge? Nor experience in healthcare

    He’s way behind schedule on the new CPA, has been far too slow to act in the covid situation and now this. I had little faith in him before, this has just cemented his status as a clown in my eyes

    • Nick Birnie

      I should clarify, It doesn’t bother me too much that we’re perpetually forgotten and our efforts largely go unnoticed. However, I know so many incredible pharmacists who are working considerable overtime in particularly stressful situations, who are at high risk of exposure due to widespread shortage of PPE, but keep working and serving their community in this trialling time despite the risks
      Yet he can’t see the value of our profession?
      And that could be extended to numerous allied health professions, support workers and other essential workers.

      I can’t see the value of a health minister who not only evidently does not understand the roles we and our colleagues in numerous other allied health professions; but doesnt support healthcare workers when we need it most. If anything in his case the term health minister is an oxymoron

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