Shots fired between pharmacy groups


tug of war vector

One pharmacy group has challenged another, alleging it took credit for the other’s work

On Monday, the AJP published an article, Plans for Queensland’s pharmacists, which incorporated information from a media statement made by the PSA, and another by the Pharmacy Guild.

Both Queensland branches issued statements in which they welcomed the re-election of the Palaszczuk Labor Government over the weekend.

Now Gerard Benedet, Pharmacy Guild Queensland Branch Director, has responded that, “With a heavy heart, I need to correct misleading statements and the misrepresentations made in yesterday’s AJP article titled ‘Plans for Queensland’s pharmacists”.

“While it’s critical and preferable that the Guild and PSA work collaboratively for the good of the profession, claiming credit for another’s work is simply un-becoming and totally unprofessional,” Mr Benedet said in a statement Tuesday.

“In fact, many jurisdictions and industries across Australia spend tens of millions of dollars each year to stamp out plagiarism. Community pharmacy should be no different.

“Yesterday’s AJP article quotes Queensland’s PSA President as saying that ‘Leading up to the election the Labor party committed to work with PSA to design and implement a trial of pharmacists practicing to their full scope in North Queensland’.

“Shane [MacDonald] was elected to his role in June 2020. By that time the Guild had already spoken to senior Government Ministers about the trial, briefed North Queensland HHS Directors and the Head of the Premier’s Department before the Shane was even elected.

“It’s simply not good enough to claim the work of others as your own. It falls well short of the professional standards that community pharmacists’ practice on a daily basis and the trust the public has in pharmacists.

“Guild members deeply value the advocacy work that their membership fees pay for and don’t expect others to claim credit for something they had nothing to do with,” Mr Benedet said.

“As further evidence the PSA should release their pre-election letter to the Queensland Government that speaks at length about the proposed full scope of practice trial in North Queensland that they supposedly proposed as proof of their involvement—sadly no such letter exists.”

The Guild said that it looks forward to the implementation of the ‘full scope of practice trial in North Queensland’ and welcomes the participation of all community pharmacists in this “critical leap forward” for patients and the profession.

In response, the PSA told the AJP that “PSA stand by our comments made in the media release regarding the Queensland Labor party’s commitment to work with PSA to design and implement a trial of pharmacists practicing to their full scope in North Queensland”.

“As stated, PSA has long advocated that current regulatory barriers prevent pharmacists from providing the full range of care that is within their professional scope of practice, skills and training,” PSA said.

“We are pleased that other organisations have been working towards the same outcome.”

The PSA attached a letter from the Queensland Labor Party sent prior to the election “that highlights their commitment to work with PSA on this matter”.

This is reproduced in full below:

Chris Campbell

General Manager – Policy and Engagement

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Dear Mr Campbell

Thank you for your email dated 11 September 2020 outlining the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s priorities for the Queensland 2020 Election. I would also like to thank you for the important work the PSA does to advocate for both its members and the health of Queenslanders, and acknowledge the essential role that pharmacists have played in maintaining the health and wellbeing of Queenslanders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

I believe our work to date on the Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot and pharmacy vaccination has demonstrated our commitment to working alongside community pharmacies to ensure all Queenslanders have access to world-class healthcare regardless of where they live. As you will be aware, as part of implementing the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s response to the 2018 Queensland Parliament Inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland, Queensland Health established the Pharmacist Administered Vaccination Project.

On 4 April 2019, the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 was amended to allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to people who are 16 years of age or more. Further amendment of the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 on 20 February 2020 enabled pharmacists to administer influenza vaccines to persons aged 10 years or more, and to enable trainee pharmacists to administer vaccines under the direction and personal supervision of a pharmacist. This amendment also expanded the range of vaccines a pharmacist and trainee pharmacist under the direction and personal supervision of a pharmacist can administer to a person who is 16 years or more under the Drug Therapy Protocol-Pharmacist Vaccination Program.

Further, in recognition of the urgent need to take care of patients while balancing public safety, the Pharmacist Vaccination Program Drug Therapy Protocol was amended to provide pharmacists with the authority to administer certain vaccines to reduce the respiratory disease burden during this health crisis. e.g. pneumococcal vaccine. The Queensland Pharmacist Vaccination Standard was also amended to reduce regulatory burden and enable more streamlined administration of vaccines by pharmacists.

Additionally, when a COVID-19 vaccination is developed a pharmacist will be able to administer the vaccine under the Communicable Diseases Program – Drug Therapy Protocol. I believe the vaccination capacity of the community pharmacy sector will be absolutely crucial to our ability in the future to ensure adequate levels of vaccination for COVID-19 across Queensland.

While I agree that Queensland has benefitted greatly from the work of our Chief Health Officer and our skilled public health units during the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe Queensland’s Chief Allied Health Officer has the expertise and scope within her role to adequately represent the interests of pharmacists within our health system. I am of course, happy to continue to work with you as to how Queensland Health can continue to improve how they work with the pharmacy profession.

I note your advocacy regarding the regulatory barriers that presently prevent pharmacists from providing the full range of care that is within their professional scope of practice, skills and training. Better integration of our health system from primary care to tertiary care is critical to delivering better care to all Queenslanders and pharmacists have played and continue to play a very significant part in this. If elected on 31 October, the Palaszczuk Labor Government will work with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and other stakeholders to design and implement a trial of pharmacists practising to their full scope in North Queensland. The scope of this trial would require consultation across the profession, with consumers and with stakeholders that work with and alongside community pharmacies.

I’m pleased that pharmacists embedded in patient-care teams within the Metro North Hospital Service are improving post-discharge health outcomes and reducing readmission rates. A re-elected Palaszczuk Labor Government would support Queensland Health working with you to develop the evidence-base for this model of care and share the outcomes with our 15 other Hospitals and Health Services.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s strong health response to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that we can now start to deliver our plan for economic recovery. Securing the health of Queenslanders is the first step towards securing our economic recovery.

Now is not the time to risk the LNP’s cuts. Queensland’s ongoing economic and health recovery requires leadership and stability, and Deb Frecklington and the LNP are a risk to our recovery.

I urge you to communicate this message with your members and supporters. Should the Palaszczuk Government be re-elected, we look forward to working with you for the benefit of all Queenslanders.

Yours sincerely

Steven Miles MP

Deputy Premier

Minister for Health

Minister for Ambulance Services

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