A former RACGP head calls for full scope of practice for pharmacists, as Labor pledges to provide financial support for after-hours pharmacies
Tasmania is readying for its state election this weekend, ahead of which the state Labor Party says if elected, it will support 10 after-hours pharmacies.
State Shadow Health Minister Bastian Seidel, who is also the former national President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, announced that the plan is hoped to reduce the burden on the state’s health system and emergency departments.
The program is planned to support existing healthcare services in suburban and town centres.
Dr Seidel said that a majority Labor Government would provide $1 million a year to support the after-hours pharmacy access.
“Tasmania’s community pharmacists have the potential to play a significant role in reducing the burden on our overstretched emergency departments,” Dr Seidel said.
“But to really make a difference, we need to use community pharmacists to the full scope of their practice.
“Labor will expand access to after-hours healthcare via better use of existing primary care infrastructure.
“Combined with embedding processes of pharmacist triage and referral, increasing public awareness of the current after-hours community pharmacy service would help reduce the number of presentations at emergency departments for minor ailments,” he said.
“Labor is also committed to removing the barriers limiting the Tasmanian community from accessing vaccination services.
“Tasmania has not kept pace with the rate of regulatory evolution seen around the rest of the country as the benefits and safety of pharmacist-administered vaccination has become apparent.
“The existing training of pharmacist-immunisers in Tasmania supports giving access to the National Immunisation Program (NIP) influenza stock for Tasmania’s community pharmacies.
“There is capacity for rapid implementation of this commitment to ensure broad access to influenza vaccination during the Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
“Tasmanian Labor recognises that the stability and certainty of the pharmacy network underpins the role of pharmacy in primary health and we are committed to maintaining and strengthening the existing requirements for pharmacies to be owned by pharmacists.”
Tasmanian Pharmacy Guild president Helen O’Byrne told the Examiner that such support could enable rural and regional pharmacies in the island state to stay open all Saturday, and in city centres, possibly open on Sundays.
“It is difficult to operate extended hours when there are penalty rates, so it does support our pharmacy community to open,” she told reporter Isobel Cootes.
“It’s a great positive recognition that community pharmacies have the capacity to roll these programs [vaccinations] out.”