NSW to get RTM

Pharmacist using computer

Real Time Prescription Monitoring is on the way in NSW – and the Guild is calling for details

The NSW Government has released its 2020-21 Budget, with what it calls a “significant investment” in health.

As well as mental health support measures, palliative care and digital health measures, the Berejiklian Government has also announced “a Real Time Prescription Monitoring system to track prescribed medicines associated with a high risk of causing harm, dependence or misuse”.

No details are yet available – though the AJP has approached NSW Health for comment – to the disappointment of Pharmacy Guild, NSW branch president David Heffernan, who has for some time been calling for such a system in the country’s most populous state.

“We’ve had several members on a working group with NSW Health and they’ve been asked about it, but so far there’s no detail been released on it, no timeline on implementation,” Mr Heffernan told the AJP.

“So when I see it I’ll believe it.

“It’s been a long wait. We were able to implement a real-time monitoring system for pseudoephedrine rather seamlessly, and it’s been operating and effective for a long time.

“And for something that has the opportunity to save lives – many lives – it’s just been disappointing to sit back and watch this slow process.

“Nevertheless, we welcome any progress on it.”

He said that stakeholders including the Guild’s NSW branch, the PSA’s NSW branch, and that of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, have all suggested using the already-existing Victorian model, SafeScript.

“However, we’ll reserve any commentary until we see the product that’s being offered,” he said.

The PSA also welcomed the move, with state branch president Chelsea Felkai commending the state government.

She noted that PSA, in its pre-Budget submission, had urged it to allocate funds to a real-time monitoring program.

“Deaths from prescription medicines have outpaced deaths from illicit drugs in Australia and RTPM will reduce inappropriate multiple prescribing events, reduce fraudulent prescribing and improve quality of care by facilitating a patient-centred approach,” she said.

“PSA also welcomes the $55.9 million investment over four years to increase support for palliative care services to provide the best quality care and support for those reaching the end of their life.”

Also included in the budget was $169.4 million over four years for mental health, the purchasing of over $1 billion in personal protective equipment to keep frontline health workers safe and $30 million for additional emergency department attendances and ambulance calls.

The PSA pre-budget submission called on the NSW Government to facilitate and fund community pharmacists to manage non-urgent presentations and allocate $9 million to reduce the financial impact and burden on emergency departments and improve access to health care through community pharmacy.

Ms Felkai said more than 10% of emergency department presentations are considered non-urgent and 70% of these presentations occur during business hours of a community pharmacy.

“Building upon the established accessibility of community pharmacies and the skills of pharmacists in the primary health care space will drastically improve the community’s access to health services,” she said.

“Allowing community pharmacists to triage, manage or refer patients to doctors for non-urgent or low urgency medical conditions would create significant benefits for both patient health and would save the health system between $131m and $439m a year.

“We also welcome the $1 billion investment in PPE which should include pharmacists in not only community pharmacies but hospitals and aged care facilities.”

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