Where’s our RTM? asks NSW PSA

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PSA has called on the NSW Government to do more to allow pharmacists to improve the state’s health care system – and again, for real time monitoring

In welcoming the Berejiklian Government’s Budget commitment to health spending, PSA NSW Branch President Professor Peter Carroll commended it on the addition of 880 allied health staff, including pharmacists.

However, Prof Carroll said it is vital that NSW Health looks at the allocation of these positions across various practice settings, not just hospitals.

With record numbers of people presenting to NSW emergency departments over the last year, the Budget misses the opportunity to build on the accessibility of community pharmacies in improving consumer access to health services, particularly in regional areas, he warned.

“Rural and regional Australia deserve better access to health services and medicines,” said Prof Carroll.

“Community pharmacists are accessible and have the skills and expertise to create better access to medicines and health services, particularly in these regional areas.

“There needs to be a focus on models of care outside the hospital system to better service the needs of these communities,” Prof Carroll said.

Given the Budget surplus, PSA said it was surprised that no funding has been allocated for a real time prescription monitoring system to help improve the quality use of medicines in NSW.

Such systems are already up and running in other jurisdictions, including Victoria, where the SafeScript system was recently rolled out state-wide.

Medicine-related problems cause 250,000 hospital admissions and 400,000 emergency department presentations in Australia each year, costing the healthcare system $1.4 billion annually. At least half of this harm is avoidable, warned the PSA.

“Medicine safety is a health priority and it is disappointing to see that there is no investment by the NSW Government in a real time prescription monitoring system in NSW, which will aid clinical decision making and provide an opportunity to identify and appropriately manage patients misusing specific prescription medications,” said Prof Carroll.

“All states, except NSW and WA, have either implemented or set strategies to introduce a real time monitoring system.

“However NSW continues to fall further behind despite experience internationally and locally that when such systems are implemented they have the desired effect in reducing harm,” Prof Carroll said.

The Budget announcement of a new Ageing and Disability Commissioner is a great step forward, however, he said, and PSA called on the Commissioner, when elected, to support a greater role for pharmacists in the aged care sector.

Pharmacists, as medicine experts, must be involved in the medication management of people living in residential aged care facilities, the PSA said.

PSA’s Medicine Safety: Take Care report showed that 98% of residents in a residential aged care facility have at least one medicine-related problem and over half are exposed to at least one potentially inappropriate medicine.

Pharmacists are best placed to improve decision making to ensure the safe and optimal use of medicines for older Australians, the PSA said.

The funding allocated to palliative care provides a great opportunity for pharmacists to have an expanded role in medicine management for palliative care patients through symptom-based care, anticipatory care and deprescribing, Prof Carroll said.

“Embedding pharmacists into palliative care teams will improve decision making and medicine safety.

“Pharmacists play a vital role in medicines management and this is pertinent to palliative care patients that are managed in the community.”

The PSA said it has worked closely with the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission to develop resources and support tools, and create professional development opportunities specific to pharmacists.

Now is the “perfect time” to embed pharmacists within NSW palliative care teams to improve decision making for the safe and appropriate use of medicines throughout all phases of care, it said.

PSA plans to continue to engage with the NSW Government on these issues to help improve healthcare accessibility and optimal health outcomes for all NSW residents.

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