We need more hospital pharmacists in NSW: SHPA

Gladys Berejiklian. Image courtesy Gladys Berejiklian via Twitter.
Gladys Berejiklian. Image courtesy Gladys Berejiklian via Twitter.

Stakeholders have welcomed the re-election of the Berejiklian NSW Government and called for more hospital pharmacists and support for pharmacy

In congratulating the return of the Berejiklian Government, the PSA asked it to commit to improving the health of the NSW community by supporting the support the “vital” role of pharmacists in the state’s health care system.

PSA NSW President Professor Peter Carroll said pharmacists’ unique expertise in the safe and effective use of medicines means their role should be expanded to deliver care wherever medicines are used.

“The entire pharmacy workforce should be invested in to deliver safer, more effective and accessible care across NSW,” Prof Carroll said.

“PSA welcomes the re-election of the Liberal Party and congratulates them on the effective health policies they have already implemented in relation to vaccinations.

“PSA recently released our Pharmacists in 2023 report to highlight that pharmacists must be empowered to do more than the current healthcare system allows them to do.

“This is about the health of the public in NSW. We simply must be able to use more effectively the workforce that we have in pharmacists, across hospitals, in community pharmacy and in other areas.

“Giving consumers in NSW access to the influenza vaccine in community pharmacies has been a huge success.

“Pharmacist-administered flu vaccination has led to greater uptake amongst the community, increasing NSW’s overall herd immunity for these preventable diseases.”

A 2018 nationwide YouGov Galaxy poll showed that two in three Australians believe pharmacists should be able to administer common vaccines with greater convenience cited as a benefit.

“Pharmacists in NSW have also been protecting people 16 years and over from whooping cough and measles since January,” Prof Carroll said.

“PSA urges the Government to take full advantage of the pharmacist workforce by expanding pharmacist-administered vaccinations to make it easier for people to access adult pneumococcal and other vaccines.”

PSA also said it believes there are opportunities to provide the community with better access to specific prescription medicines for acute conditions by utilising the skills and expertise of trained pharmacists.

“Pharmacists can ease the burden on the health system and now is the time to commit to new reforms that allow them to provide better health outcomes for NSW,” Prof Carroll said.

SHPA also welcomed the re-election and reaffirmed its commitment to partnering with government and healthcare stakeholders to improve medicines management and patient care.

On behalf of members and the SHPA NSW Branch, Chief Executive Kristin Michaels said SHPA looks forward to working with the Minister for Health and the NSW Department of Health in supporting hospital pharmacist-led initiatives to improve patient care and reduce medicine-related incidents.

“The misuse of pharmaceutical opioids continues to cause harm in NSW with a rate of 2.1 deaths due to pharmaceutical opioids per 100,000 people, the third highest proportion in Australia.

“We encourage the NSW Government to invest in opioid stewardship services as detailed in the 33 recommendations of our ‘Reducing Opioid-related Harm’ report.

“This will lead to a specific examination of post-surgical prescribing in hospitals, which is a vital part of intervention. Hospital pharmacists remain able to encourage the appropriate use of opioids by patients to minimise the risk of opioid abuse, addiction and diversion.

“By partnering with SHPA and other agencies, the NSW government can develop clinical tools and resources to support pharmacists and the public in this effort.”

Ms Michaels reiterated the need for investment in hospital pharmacist positions.

“SHPA will continue to advocate for greater investment in hospital pharmacy and extended weekend and after-hours pharmacy services, bringing NSW in line with other states and territories and helping NSW hospitals reduce the 28,000 medication-related incidents that occur in the state each year.

“NSW’s hospital pharmacist to hospital bed ratio is currently the lowest in the country. A refreshed government should take the opportunity offered by the NSW people to revisit the funding provided to sufficiently support the quality and levels of medicines expertise provided in NSW hospitals.”

Ms Michaels also welcomes the NSW Government’s investment into hospital services, which includes Stage 2 of the Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals expansion project.

“We hope an increase in hospital pharmacists accompanies this investment.”

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