We need a leader

Australia needs a Chief Pharmacist, pharmacy needs to play a more central health care role and get greater access to vaccinations, PSA says

A more visible, central presence for pharmacy in Australia’s health care system and bureaucracy, and fast-tracking the removal of barriers to pharmacist vaccination are among the centrepieces of the PSA’s pre-budget wish list.  

Among the items at the top of the PSA’s 2019-20 Federal Budget Submission, released this week, is the appointment of a new Chief Pharmacist to be embedded in the Department of Health, and to parallel other allied health positions such as Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer.

PSA says such a role is vital in the provision of high-level advice to improve quality use of medicines in Australia.

“The time for investment in renewing the approach to Quality Use of Medicines is now,” said PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman in his foreword to the submission.

“PSA calls for the establishment of… a Commonwealth Chief Pharmacist. This position is long overdue to provide the leadership required in delivering a strategic government policy agenda on the Quality Use of Medicines.”

“It is simply not acceptable that medication errors can cost our healthcare system $1.4 billion annually in healthcare costs. We must do better,” Dr Freeman said.

PSA also called for “the removal of legislative and policy barriers which prevent pharmacists from contributing to the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases in Australia,” Dr Freeman said.

Fast-tracking work announced by COAG that would harmonise access to pharmacist-administered vaccinations nationally to include all adult vaccines on the National Immunisation Scheme (NIS) was essential, the submission states.

In addition, it argued that the Federal Government should “facilitate nationally consistent consumer access to National Immunisation Program funded vaccines where administered by pharmacists.

Currently, only consumers in Victoria can access National Immunisation Program stock when being vaccinated by a pharmacist. This represents geographical inequity for Australians”.

Introducing such policies would broaden engagement with unvaccinated adults and would prmote equity of access, PSA said.

Amongst the other recommendations are:

  • Investing $17 million as seed funding for a 12-month program to integrate pharmacists in aged care facilities. “The program would be designed to ensure appropriate evidence of the economic and clinical benefits was captured and evaluated, while being adaptable to specific aged care facilities, PSA said.
  • Guaranteeing continuation of funding of the 22 sites currently participating in the Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to improve Chronic Disease Management (IPAC) trial, through to June 2020.
  • Removing the existing restrictions on the monthly maximum number of pharmacist delivered medication management reviews such as Home Medicines Reviews (HMRs) and MedsCheck. 

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