New policies to be introduced by the Andrews Government are a welcome move to improve the health of Victorians by enabling better utilisation of the skills and expertise of pharmacists and the existing community pharmacy infrastructure, the PSA says.
Separate initiatives announced by the Government today include changes to legislation allowing pharmacists to administer flu and whooping cough vaccines, a trial of extended roles of pharmacists in chronic disease management, and the roll out of the state’s first 24-hour, 7-day-a-week pharmacies.
PSA National President, Joe Demarte, says the policy announcements recognise the contribution of pharmacists to positive health outcomes for consumers across the continuum of care.
“The initiatives announced today are a sensible policy response to growing healthcare problems, including falling vaccination rates and the increasing burden of chronic disease, and make use of a highly skilled and accessible pharmacist workforce,” he says.
Both Australian and international experience demonstrates that pharmacists can safely administer vaccines as part of their existing scope of practice, and that offering immunisations in pharmacies is effective at increasing vaccination rates, Demarte says.
“As a partner in the Queensland Government’s trial Pharmacy Immunisation Program, PSA has been a strong advocate for involving pharmacists in immunisation.
“We welcome the news that Victorian regulations will be brought into line with other states, where pharmacist vaccination programs have proven successful.”
The announcement of the Pharmacist Chronic Disease Management pilot program would bring Australia into line with other countries such as New Zealand and Canada, where pharmacists play a greater role in collaborative models for managing chronic disease, something for which PSA has been advocating strongly, Demarte says.
“Medicines are such a significant part of chronic disease management and it just makes sense to involve pharmacists more, for the benefit of consumers,” he says.
“What is proposed is well within pharmacists’ current scope of practice, and the pilot provides the opportunity for the development of collaborative protocols for pharmacists and GPs to work together to improve chronic disease management.”
PSA has previously welcomed the creation of 24/7 pharmacies to address access gaps in after-hours health care in Victoria.
“PSA successfully piloted an after-hours pharmacy service project in partnership with the ACT Medicare Local last year, with pharmacists triaging, treating where appropriate and referring patients to their GP or a hospital,” says Demarte.
“The experience and lessons learned from the Canberra service offer invaluable insights for the rollout of the Government’s ‘Super Pharmacies’, and PSA welcomes the opportunity to work with other partners to support the implementation of this initiative.”