Do pharmacists trust their Board?

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Only just over half of pharmacists feel confident that the Pharmacy Board is doing everything it can to keep the public safe

AHPRA and the National Boards, including the Pharmacy Board, have released the results of a social research project which it says was aimed at helping the organisation understand perceptions about it and its work.

AHPRA and the Boards wanted to gain a better understanding of what the community, regulated health professions, and our stakeholders think and feel about us, particularly in areas of understanding, confidence and trust.

The main survey found that AHPRA and the National Boards are widely respected, with stakeholder perceptions generally positive and consistent; the broad sentiment, it said, was that there had been a “rough and shaky start” but a very solid foundation had been built.

It highlighted the need for a shared vision and a more unified public “face,” as well as to shift the conversation from the “punitive” to the “positive”.

The Pharmacy Board also published a report based on the results of the online survey of registered pharmacists.

The study used a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, specifically extended interviews via phone and face to face, focus groups and online surveys.

The sample of pharmacists numbered 355: 59% female and 41% male; 27% of whom were aged 30 to 39, 20% 40 to 49 and 19% 50 to 59, with 13% aged 18 to 29; 62% of the pharmacists were located in metropolitan areas, compared to 38% regional.

Most of the pharmacists – 87% – said they had never had a complaint made against them to AHPRA or their Board, while 9% said they had, and 4% preferred not to say.

Meanwhile 71% said they had never at any point been audited to check their compliance with the mandatory registration standards, while 20% had and 9% again preferred not to say.

When it came to levels of confidence and trust in the Pharmacy Board of Australia, 56% of pharmacists – as well as 56% of all registered health practitioners – felt their national Board was doing everything it could to keep the public safe.

Fifteen per cent of pharmacists said it was not, and 29% preferred not to say.

Only 64% of pharmacists said they trusted their National Board, compared to 62% of all registered health professionals; 12% said they did not, compared to 13% of practitioners overall.

More pharmacists than the general registered health practitioner community – 16%, up 6% on the overall average – felt that the Pharmacy Board was “controlling”. The most common adjective the pharmacists used to describe the Board was “regulators,” at 45%, with “necessary” (37%), “administrators,” (35%) and “for practitioners” (31%) following.

When asked for indicators of trust, some respondents said that “they are currently the only association I trust to action relevant issues without hidden agenda;” “they are fair in their investigation of reports of misconduct. They are there to protect the public and those practitioners who are doing the right thing;” and “transparent processes, responsive to complaints but fair”.

Barriers to trust included “have allowed Chemist Warehouse and other businesses to destroy the pharmacy profession;” “Nepotism, bias, self interest, lack of objectivity, does not follow through on breaches by rich and more powerful pharmacists, just follows up on vulnerable pharmacists looking for work or improve their position;” and “Non communicative, secret, not representative”.

AHPRA plans to again survey practitioners and the public this year.

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