Pharmacy was often not consulted in the Queensland Government’s response to COVID-19, resulting in barriers to providing help, says one stakeholder
The PSA’s submission to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee inquiry into the Queensland Government’s health response to COVID-19 highlights the serious challenges faced by pharmacists in Queensland during the pandemic.
Pharmacists across the state rose to the challenge of COVID-19, remaining open to ensure the community had physical access to critical health services and quality medicines, says the PSA.
The organisation’s submission outlines the key issues faced by pharmacists, particularly barriers which restricted pharmacists from providing patients the best possible care during the pandemic along with recommendations to ensure limitations can be transformed into future benefits for Queenslanders.
Key issues highlighted in the submission centre around legislative disparities, lack of access to personal protective equipment and management and communication of medicine shortages.
PSA Queensland Branch President, Shane MacDonald, said while the Queensland Government’s overall health response helped contain the pandemic there are areas where improvements can be made to ensure that Queensland patients and families are better protected in the future.
“Pharmacists and their staff felt forgotten by the Government during this pandemic and it is disappointing that pharmacy leaders and pharmacists were not always fully consulted when policy and implementation decisions were being made,” he said.
“There are over 1200 community pharmacies in Queensland and as far as PSA is aware not a single one closed during the pandemic, remaining open to provide care, immunisations, medicines and supplies to all Queenslanders.
“It is necessary that we not only raise concerns but provide recommendations to ensure Queenslanders are better protected in the future or during a second wave of COVID-19.”
In the submission, PSA provided 11 recommendations including a mechanism to consult with PSA on matters relating to the supply of therapeutic goods, the appointment of a Queensland Chief Pharmacist, uniform legislations across all jurisdictions in consultation with other state and territories and adequate supply of personal protective equipment for hospital and community pharmacists and pharmacy staff.
Mr MacDonald said he hopes the submission will highlight the good work of pharmacists and pharmacy staff in Queensland under extreme pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am extremely proud of how the profession stood up and cared for the community during the pandemic and hope the recommendations lead to positive change going forward that will better allow pharmacists to care for their patients in Queensland.”
The submission can be viewed here.