Several patient stakeholder groups have made submissions to the Queensland pharmacy inquiry—and none support ownership deregulation
Instead, there is significant support for the current ownership model, as well as an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists.
AJP rounded up some edited exerpts of their submissions to the Inquiry…
“We have a long history of working with community pharmacies in Queensland on a range of programs, including sharps disposals in pharmacies and education programs for pharmacists.
“We are writing to the inquiry because we are concerned about some elements of the terms of reference, specifically those which relate to the deregulation of pharmacy ownership in Queensland.
“QPP believes the current, regulated model has clearly demonstrated that community-based pharmacies provide the model of service and care that PLHIV [people living with HIV] need.
“We are concerned that a corporatised model, which puts profits first, would limit pharmacists’ ability to provide the appropriate model of specialised and complex care and advice PLHIV often require.
“Unfortunately, HIV remains highly stigmatised in society for those living with HIV. Most PLHIV are very concerned about the maintenance of their confidentiality, and some live in daily fear of unauthorised disclosure of their HIV status. Under the current model, PLHIV have been able to choose pharmacies which are independently-owned, and build trusting relationships with the pharmacists over many years.
“Through these relationships, PLHIV have become assured that their confidentiality is being strictly upheld. WE are very concerned that, should pharmacists simply become employees of large corporate entities, this consistency of service and the strict maintenance of confidentiality may be compromised for PLHIV.
“QPP is also concerned about the threat that a ‘big business’ takeover of pharmacies may pose to the access to HIV medicines in pharmacies. HIV medications are expensive to stock and we are concerned that pharmacies owned by corporate entities, who are primarily motivated by profit, would be reticent to stock these medicines.”
—Queensland Positive People
“We believe that any deregulation of current laws of ownership threatens the existence of independent, community-based pharmacies in Queensland. Bravehearts rejects any plans to deregulate pharmacy ownership in Queensland and we certainly don’t to have (sic) to rely on big business when we need them to care for vulnerable people.
“Our clients rely on pharmacies as an important ‘first point of contact,’ particularly those clients who live in rural and remote areas, whose healthcare options are frequently limited.
“In order to fight family violence and child sexual abuse, we need community services to stay in the hands of the community.”
—Bravehearts Foundation Ltd
“We fear that a big business takeover of community pharmacies would see the services they provide to eczema patients, in screening, consultation and treatment, diminish. We believe that a pharmacy driven to deliver returns to corporate shareholders would see little value in educating its staff about eczema, or in encouraging its pharmacists to have conversations with their customers about Eczema and other health conditions.
“With regards to the scope of practice of pharmacists. The EAA would be supportive of any extension of screening of skin conditions in pharmacies. We believe that, given that pharmacies are the most visited health destination in Australia, they are best placed to screen for a range of conditions, including skin conditions.
“While we are supportive of the role medical doctors have to play in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions, we believe that screening in pharmacies could ensure that more conditions are picked up sooner, ensuring that Eczema sufferers can get help when they need it.”
—Eczema Association of Australia
“Everyday activities, like visiting the pharmacy, can be a challenge for people with blindness or low vision, so having a pharmacist who is prepared to take the time to work with a blind or low vision person is essential.
“We are concerned that under a corporate model, pharmacists would no longer provide the sort of care that our constituents need, given that this service is not in itself profitable for pharmacies.
“Our experience with community pharmacy makes us confident that pharmacists who own their own pharmacies understand the importance of supporting members of their community with disability, including vision impairment.
“While many medications are now sold with brailling, there is not universal brailling on medications. This makes it essential that a supportive pharmacist be available to talk through medications with a blind or low vision customer.
“We also believe that the current model ensures that there is clinical accountability for pharmacists. We are concerned that under the management of a large business, the sort of personalised service on which our constituents rely, and the accountability which ensures that they receive the care they need, may disappear.”
“Glaucoma Australia supports a change in current regulations to allow pharmacists to properly support patients with the correct healthcare, starting with continuance of medication.
“Current laws only allow a three-day emergency supply of a medication and mostly does not allow an original pack of a medication to be dispensed to a patient who currently uses the medication and is stable on it.
“For glaucoma, continued use of eye drops is essential, yet cannot by law be issued as an emergency supply due to bottles of eye drops unable to be broken into a three-day supply. Pharmacists can contribute to ongoing adherence by replacing a bottle of eye drops in case of loss or inappropriate storage including exposure to excessive heat or accidental freezing.
“Amending the regulations to enable pharmacists to support continuity of care by supplying essential PBS medications for people with diagnosed glaucoma will assist to improve these metrics and the quality of life for many Queenslanders.”
“With community pharmacies playing an increasingly important role in integrated care models for people living with chronic disease such as blood cancers, the effect of deregulation could result in access inequities for people from rural and regional communities, lowered standards of care, increased risk through adverse medicine-medicine interactions and reduced survival and quality of life outcomes as a result.
“The Leukaemia Foundation strongly believes that expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists to support a more integrated model of care for people living with blood cancers would not only deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes for these people, as well as reducing the burden on GPs and other services.”