Tenders to deliver the Victorian Government’s Super Pharmacies Initiatives are now open, Victoria’s Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, has announced.
The initiative, to which the Andrews Government has pledged $28.7 million, is planned to deliver five 24-hour, seven-days-a-week pharmacies by June 2016 and 20 of the pharmacies by 2018.
The Victorian Labor Government says it recognises community pharmacies have a trusted role in the healthcare system at a local level and are well placed to accommodate additional assessment and treatment services in a safe environment.
“This service will not replace doctors or the need to visit an emergency department if people need a higher level of care,” it says. “Nurses will assist with non-urgent matters and in the early detection of health concerns.
“This service will help ease the pressure on hospital staff – allowing doctors and nurses to concentrate on treating the sickest patients presenting in hospital emergency departments.”
The Minister also announced two new initiatives expanding pharmacists’ roles: from 2016, healthy adults across Victoria will be able to access flu vaccination from pharmacists, and the delivery of whooping cough vaccinations for eligible adults by pharmacists will commence from 2017.
Nurses working under the Government’s Super Pharmacies Initiative will also be able to deliver flu and whooping cough vaccinations.
The two-year Pharmacist Chronic Disease Management pilot program will see pharmacists and GPs work closely together to help patients manage their chronic illnesses and medications, says the Victorian Government.
Currently, more than half of all visits to GPs involve the management of at least one chronic condition.
The pilot, to run in three locations, will mean eligible patients will be able to visit their local pharmacist to monitor their conditions and manage medications, under the direction of a GP’s care plan.
Fairfax’s The Age reports that this expansion of the role of pharmacists has “infuriated” Victorian AMA president Tony Bartone, who told the paper that the plan is risky and aims to substitute doctor’s skills.
“Doctors must remain at the centre of care – not as a second opinion. Going to a pharmacy instead of a GP clinic further risks fragmenting patient care, and may lead to significant health issues being missed,” he told The Age.
Meanwhile, Minister Hennessy says that the Andrews Labor Government understands that pharmacists are trusted health care professionals and that pharmacists can provide a greater range of health services.
“Our new initiatives will expand the role of pharmacists to give families a new option to access convenient and timely health care, when they need it most, closer to home,” she says,
“Using the skills of highly trained pharmacists to deliver primary care has the potential to support growing demands on our aged care facilities and our hospitals.”