As a co-signatory to the 7CPA, the PSA can help raise the voices of other stakeholders including patient groups, its president says
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Wednesday morning that the Pharmaceutical Society would, for the first time, become a co-signatory to the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement.
“As part of that, what I would like to do is to build into that Agreement the expanded scope of practice, where pharmacy will be involved increasingly in preventive health, whether that’s across the range of activities such as immunisation – although we’ll need the states to agree in each particular case,” the Minister told attendees of the Pharmacists in 2023: For patients, for our profession, for Australia’s health system report launch.
“That will mean that ultimately, as we expand the role of pharmacists in preventive health, we will keep more people out of hospital. We will keep more people healthy – and whether it’s diabetes or bowel cancer checks, whether it’s all of these areas, at the end of the day you will help people across Australia save lives and protect lives.”
The Minister flagged “more to be said in the coming weeks” from the Government in taking up some of the ideas set out in the PSA report.
PSA national president Dr Christopher Freeman replied that “we are committed to working with you as a cosignatory on the upcoming agreement”.
He later told the AJP that he believes the PSA has “a lot” to contribute to the Agreement, which to date has been between governments and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
“We have, for multiple successive Agreements now, believed that we have had a significant role to play in how the services are rolled out, and what types of services are rolled out through community pharmacy,” Dr Freeman said.
“And we also have a strong belief that we need to start increasing the quality and consistency of pharmacy practice.
“While these new and emerging roles are excellent and we should be pursuing them, I think we’ve also got a responsibility to make sure that there’s consistency of practice, and quality of practice for the services we already provide.
“And so the Society feels as though as custodians of the Professional Practice Standards, as custodians of the Competency Standards and the Code of Ethics, we’ve got a genuine role to play in that, and I think the Minister’s announcement today was just a reflection of that.”
He said that it would be naïve of the PSA to believe that only the voices of pharmacists should be listened to when it comes to the Agreement.
“I think part of our role as a co-signatory to the next Agreement will be bringing the views and thoughts of some of the other groups with us, whether they be consumer groups or other organisations,” he said.
“I think we have a responsibility – or whoever is the co-signatory has a responsibility – to consider their thoughts, because the Pharmacy Agreement doesn’t just affect pharmacists. It affects the health system, it affects patients.
“I’m not suggesting all those groups become co-signatories to the Agreement, but there needs to be a process in which they can be arranged to be contributors to the discussions.”
He said that as set out in the PSA’s new report – which makes 11 recommendations for change – pharmacists are underutilised.
Pharmacists should continue to push to practise to full scope, he said, and “we’ve got more to offer the health system if they’d allow us to do that”.
But this must be based on genuine patient need, he stressed.
“We can’t be delivering services simply because we think it’s a good idea; there has to be a patient need driving that.”
The AJP has reached out to the Pharmacy Guild for comment.