Steps towards pharmacist prescribing could be taken soon, including examining how stakeholders could get involved with its progress
The Pharmacy Board held a forum last week to consider the need and opportunities for expanding pharmacist involvement in prescribing.
“The growing need worldwide to improve safe and timely access to medicines to ensure the most efficient use of healthcare resources has seen a broader range of health professions authorised through legislation to provide this healthcare service,” the Board said in its latest communique.
“In Australia, non-medical prescribing has been successfully extended to dentists, nurse practitioners, midwives, podiatrists and optometrists applying different prescribing models.
“Prescribing by pharmacists is an established component of practice in a number of countries, including New Zealand and the United Kingdom.”
The forum looked into how a potential expanded pharmacist role could contribute to supporting access to medicines in Australia.
This aligns with the objective of the National Scheme, including “to enable the continuous development of a flexible, responsive and sustainable health workforce and to enable innovation in the education of, and service delivery by, health practitioners,” the Board said.
“The day-long forum was an opportunity to explore, identify and articulate the roles of different stakeholders to successfully develop proposals about pharmacist prescribing that could be implemented and sustained as part of a broader range of health services to effectively meet the health needs of the community.”
Stakeholders had the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on the three models of non-medical prescribing proposed by the 2013 Health Professionals Prescribing Pathway Project.
These include autonomous prescribing; prescribing under supervision; and prescribing via a structured prescribing arrangement; in the context of pharmacy practice.
“Under each model, the prescriber, no matter their profession, must recognise and prescribe according to their competence for their scope of practice, in accordance with legislative authorisation and with a collective approach to patient care,” the Board said.
“Key presenters, small discussion groups and the use of voting technology meant all attendees were able to increase their awareness of other stakeholder viewpoints and of the issues involved in implementing either one of the three proposed models to enable pharmacist prescribing.”
Stakeholders at the forum included hospital and community pharmacists, government health department representatives, professional association delegates, state and territory pharmacy authorities, consumer representatives, education providers, the Australian Pharmacy Council, New Zealand government advisers, pharmacists with firsthand experience as prescribers overseas, Pharmacy Board members and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency staff.
The Pharmacy Board says it will publish a report shortly on the discussions held during the forum and on next steps.
“Next steps could include wider consultation on issues raised at the forum and how stakeholders could be involved to assist in progressing pharmacist prescribing.
“Examples of this include exploring and defining what else pharmacists might do in practice that will better serve the public and identifying what legislative changes would be needed in the eight state and territories to allow pharmacists to prescribe under relevant models.”