Pharmacists appeal for govt support

Urgent call for funded COVID-19 vaccination by community pharmacists, regulatory change and millions for pharmacy services from NSW Budget

PSA’s NSW branch is calling on the government to pass regulatory changes needed so the state’s nearly 10,000 pharmacists can administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

In its submission to the NSW Government 2021/22 Budget, the PSA says pharmacists want to be able to vaccinate people 10 years and over for both COVID-19 as well as selected travel vaccines “to support public health outcomes”.

PSA NSW Branch President Chelsea Felkai

The PSA also asks for appropriate funding for pharmacist immunisers to administer COVID-19 vaccine and reiterates its call for community pharmacy access to the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

“Australian pharmacists have been administering vaccines safely and effectively since 2014 and across all States and Territories since 2016,” said PSA NSW Branch President Chelsea Felkai.

“Community pharmacists provide an accessible and safe location for the delivery of vaccination services and by improving vaccination rates, pharmacies can help ease pressure on general practice and hospital emergency departments.

“PSA recommends using pharmacist immunisers for large scale rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in NSW and ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine and service is funded when administered by any trained immuniser, including pharmacists,” she said.

The PSA also wants the NSW Government to allocate $7.5 million to fund the re-direction of non-urgent presentations from hospital emergency departments to community pharmacists.

In 2018-2019, there were nearly three million emergency department presentations in NSW. Of these, 335,836 (11%) were considered as non-urgent.

Ms Felkai said patients seeking care from the emergency department for conditions such as headaches, coughs and colds, earaches and other non-urgent conditions could instead visit their community pharmacy.

“There is strong evidence that the clinical advice provided by community pharmacists regarding symptoms of minor illness results in the same health outcomes as if the patient went to see their GP or attended the emergency department,” she said.

“Pharmacists can manage non-urgent conditions or low urgency conditions, provide the right level of care and mitigate funding and system inefficiencies as patients access professional support for conditions that can be self-managed or require referral.”

Other recommendations in the submission include $5 million to develop a model of care for pharmacist administration of injectable buprenorphine in community pharmacy, and $1.5 million funding for a Hepatitis C public health initiative that raises awareness, facilitates detection and provides access to antiviral treatment by trained community pharmacists.

Furthermore, its call for $1.2 million annually to embed pharmacists in state-funded aged care facilities to support medicine safety are in line with the PSA’s medicine safety report and was suggested by experts during the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

See the full budget submission here

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