Notifications rise

There were 373 notifications lodged with AHPRA about pharmacists in 2016/17, new figures show

AHPRA has released its annual report for the year to 30 June 2017, showing that 1.8% of pharmacists had notifications made about them during the year.

One notification was made about a pharmacy student.

The Annual Report figures show that 355 notifications were closed during the year, with 18% resulting in accepting an undertaking or conditions being imposed on a pharmacist’s registration.

Another 30.1% resulted in a pharmacist receiving a caution or reprimand by the Board; 1.7% resulted in suspension or cancellation of registration; and 49.3% resulted in no further action being taken.

The figures show an increase in the number of notifications for 2016/17: a total of 373 notifications were lodged with AHPRA and 272 with the Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) in NSW, a total of 645. This is an increase from 2015/16 when 570 notifications were received by AHPRA and the HPCA, a spike of 16.3% from the year before that.

Immediate action was taken 21 times in 2016/7.

There were 51 mandatory notifications made: 44 about standards, six about impairment and one about alcohol or drugs.

The new figures show that 200 pharmacists were monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year.

Active monitoring was undertaken in 175 cases: 25 on the grounds of conflict, 14 for health reasons, 42 for performance, 15 prohibited practitioners/students and 79 for suitability/eligibility for registration.

There were 53 statutory offence complaints made, and 48 closed. AHPRA says that most of the new matters related to advertising breaches, though 13 were related to title protection.

As for the total number of pharmacists registered, it has grown 2.2%: up to 30,360 pharmacists across the country, as well as 7,540 registered students (this number has also grown, up 3.6% on last year).

This means pharmacists make up 4.5% of the total health practitioner registrant base.

“The theme of the year was research,” says William Kelly, Chair of the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

“On behalf of the Board, AHPRA’s Risk-based Regulation Unit completed a study of complaints about pharmacists, which provided an evidence base to better inform the development of regulatory standards for the profession.”

The study entailed a quantitative analysis of complaints about pharmacists received between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2016. Its outcomes will be reported over the coming year.

The Board also continued its consultation into proposals for revised guidance on the compounding of sterile injectable medicines and funded and participated in the review of the National competency standards framework for pharmacists in Australia 2016, as well as piloting a survey of interns and preceptors to look into issues relevant to the quality of intern training experience.

“The Board proactively engaged the profession and stakeholders to ensure the information and guidance we provide is easy to understand, up-to-date and relevant,” says Mr Kelly.

“This work included updating website content and revising a guide for oral examination candidates.”

Across Australia, there are now almost 680,000 registered health practitioners.

Across all practitioners, the top three reasons for a notification were:

  • Clinical care (42.8%)
  • Pharmacy/medication (11.9%)
  • Health impairment (8.4%).

Across all practitioners, there was also a 32.1% increase in mandatory notifications.

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