NSW in danger of falling behind


health professional at computer with magnifying glass

NSW “desperately” needs a real-time monitoring tool, according to a leading GP

Professor Charlotte Hespe, Chair of RACGP NSW and ACT, has told newsGP that the need for such a tool in NSW is urgent.

“We have seen the value of real-time prescription monitoring in Tasmania and Victoria. It’s time for doctors, pharmacists and patients to have the opportunity to use a similar system in New South Wales,” Prof Hespe says.

“GPs are on the front line of this crisis and we desperately need a real-time tool to help us identify and support patients experiencing addiction to prescription drugs.
 
“As a GP, knowing if someone is genuinely in need of a prescription or requires assistance for an addiction means I can provide the right care to the right patient.”

She warned that NSW may fall behind other jurisdictions when it comes to patient health, and said patients need to engage candidates for the upcoming NSW state election regarding better monitoring of high-risk medicines.

“Put simply, we need to see the Government take action before more lives are lost.
 
“If a patient in Tasmania is suffering from an addiction, they are flagged as needing assistance, whereas in New South Wales some of our most vulnerable patients risk slipping through the cracks.”

Meanwhile she also noted in a March 2019 communication to RACGP members that the ACT’s system is going live this month.

“In response to the growing harms of pharmaceutical abuse, ACT Health will be introducing a real-time prescription-monitoring website for health professionals known as DAPIS Online Remote Access (DORA).

“DORA will be operational from March 2019 – it is a secure website that allows prescribers and pharmacists to research information on their patient in relation to their previous supplies of controlled medicines. Any pharmacist or prescriber of controlled medicines may apply to access DORA to support ACT patient care.

“From March 2019, prescribers and pharmacists will be able to apply to register for DORA via the DORA registration website.”

Prof Hespe is one of a growing number of voices expressing concern about the lag in NSW’s approach to real time monitoring.

In early March, NSW Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame handed down her findings regarding the deaths of five people who died from multi-drug toxicity following accidental overdose, and one who died of heroin toxicity after an accidental overdose.

Ms Grahame said at the time that a real time monitoring system in NSW was “years away,” given evidence presented at the inquest by Judith Mackson, Chief Pharmacist and Director of the Chief Pharmacist Unit within NSW Ministry of Health, who said NSW’s system was still in a design stage and that NSW was committed to waiting on the Commonwealth system, rather than focusing on a stand-alone system for NSW.

Pharmacy Guild NSW branch president David Heffernan has also expressed frustration with the lack of movement on such a system, saying in July 2018 that it was “confounding” that there was no strategy in place.

“Without real-time monitoring, the deaths will continue,” he warned at the time.

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