Hospital pharmacy workforce rising to the challenge

This is only the beginning, says SHPA president Peter Fowler, but pharmacists and technicians ‘will get through this together’

Mr Fowler, who is a specialist pharmacist in critical care at the Launceston General Hospital in Tasmania, has written a message of support to fellow hospital pharmacists across the country.

“At the time of writing there have been 1.8 million cases of COVID‐19 disease reported globally, with more than 108 000 deaths reported across 210 countries,” he writes in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research.

“In Australia, the pattern of COVID‐19 disease has largely been driven by the numbers of infected people arriving by air and sea, although transmission within the community is accounting for an increasing proportion of new cases.

“No one in this country is unaffected and for the nation’s healthcare worker the impacts are profound.”

Due to the impacts of the pandemic, Mr Fowler says the work of pharmacists has changed dramatically in recent months.

“Our pharmacy departments have had teams broken up and separated, many of us are working remotely, and our roles and tasks have changed,” he says.

“We are developing new ways to provide vulnerable patients with the medicines, information and education they need to allow them to stay distanced and safe, including through the novel use of digital technologies. Others among us are preparing for increasing numbers of severe and critically ill patients in units with increased ventilator numbers.”

He says the SHPA has been placing all its resources towards supporting hospitals and hospital pharmacists for the months ahead.

SHPA resources include a COVID-19 information hub, forum, webinar series and topical education program, while it is providing advocacy work across the areas of medicines shortages and COVID-19 clinical evidence.

Mr Fowler also points out that in March, SHPA was the first to call for willing and available pharmacists to register their interest in supporting understaffed hospitals.

“Of course, this is only the beginning,” he says.

“Just as we are in for the long haul living under new transmission mitigation measures, and as the pressure on hospital staffing, medicines supply and resources will be high for a considerable time to come, SHPA is steadfast in its commitment to our members, their colleagues and the Australians in their care,” he says.

“It is my great honour to lead an organisation that has embraced the challenges posed by this pandemic, just as the passion and commitment of the hospital pharmacy workforce has risen around the country.

“I believe we will get through this, together, and we will emerge on the other side, stronger.”

Please read the full article in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research here

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