We want to see a viable community pharmacy network into the future. Community Pharmacy is based on your investment into community and includes infrastructure, employment opportunities and local engagement.
The Guild understands that you are eager to seek clarity on the components of the 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement (7CPA). Despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we are in ongoing conversations with the Government and like you, want a swift signing of the agreement as it is due to come into effect on 1 July 2020. The best thing the Commonwealth Government can do for community pharmacy is to deliver a fair and positive 7CPA and keep the Prime Minister's promise to "keep pharmacy whole."
The coronavirus pandemic, as confronting as it has been, has shown the importance of the community pharmacy network, its resilience under extreme conditions and its essential role in providing primary care to all Australians. We understand that the economic crisis is going to be felt long after the health impact is finished.
There is no better show of stability than a 7CPA that is in the best interest of community pharmacy, our workforce and all Australians. The Guild appreciates that necessary legislative changes were made to make Pharmacy Location Rules continue after the expiry of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement.
We are fighting for you on major issues such as the destructive idea of 60-day dispensing and the obvious repercussions this would have on patient safety, the dollar discount, professional service program stability and remuneration for you as a healthcare professional, your personal investment into infrastructure and workforce, and dispensary remuneration certainty.
The program remunerates Guild member pharmacies for their skills and expertise and promotes repeat business with meaningful customer interactions in-store. This is our first year offering this program through Guild member pharmacies in Tasmania and despite having to overcome significant challenges including stock shortages, vaccination supply delays and the impact of Covid-19 changing general workflows in pharmacies, we have been able to achieve a solid start to the program.
We know that this program will provide significant opportunity next season now our member pharmacies have demonstrated the ease of having a vaccination in a community pharmacy.
We are constantly meeting with State and Federal Ministers on behalf of our members to champion the importance of community pharmacy and a sustainable model. This year we saw a reduction in the age that pharmacists can administer flu vaccination to 10 years along with a state funded MMR program and enablement of pharmacist dTPa immunisation delivery. We also leveraged our Federal Ministers to educate and explain the issues and impacts of the 60 day supply proposal.
Our State level advocacy program with the current Liberal Government has provided excellent exposure for our members and its value has been extraordinary given the Federal reach we have been able to leverage at National Secretariat and other key seats across Australia.
We also seek to engage with other health related stakeholders so that we raise the profile of pharmacy and seek opportunities to work in collaboration, forming mutually beneficial partnerships where we are able. Examples include:
We provided fully funded PainWise training to our members and their pharmacist teams and are negotiating to provide Advanced Suicide Prevention Training in collaboration with the Black Dog Institute, Primary Health Tasmania and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia to build on the Mental Health First Aid Training provided free last year. We know that there will be a huge demand for mental health services and pharmacy can provide access to referral pathways and support.
In collaboration with the Queensland Branch we continue to provide members with quality pharmacy assistant training, and are helping to identify funding opportunities to access the State Government’s ‘Train Now” fund which will offer fully subsidised training to you pharmacy assistants in areas such as infection control measures in a pharmacy environment.
We are ready to help our members with the implementation of ePrescribing and want to ensure that the approach is measured, members receive the support they need the systems are safe and secure for pharmacy and patients.
Our small but dedicated Branch office team organised and delivered the first Tasmanian Pharmacy Conference, providing Tasmanian members and their teams with two days of networking and education at a very cost effective rate, held locally in Hobart.
The conference attracted excellent sponsorship and we were able to offer quality speakers and CPD accredited sessions. Feedback from both attendees and sponsors has been very positive and we have commenced initial organisation for the 2021 conference. Follow this link to the Conference website for a summary of the event.
Your concerns are important to us. We continue to work tirelessly on a variety of issues and encourage you to continue to voice your concerns, and ask questions so we can continue advocating on your behalf.
National Immunisation Program (NIP)
We continue to advocate on your behalf to the Tasmanian Government for access to the NIP in line with Victoria, ACT and WA. Allowing NIP access through community pharmacy will ensure Tasmanians can obtain increased access to vaccination services across the state as we head into the most challenging influenza season in our nation’s history. A decision to allow Tasmanian community pharmacies to access NIP would result in a reduction in disease burden associated with vaccine-preventable diseases, reduced patient wait time (avoiding patient clustering) and overall improved access and use of vaccines under the Program.
Advocating for Tasmanian legislative changes including Telehealth prescriptions
The Federal Government’s broad enablement of telehealth resulted in issues for pharmacies needing to adhere to state based legislation. Member concerns regarding the presentation of prescriptions to pharmacy were conveyed to both the Tasmanian Health Minister and the Department resulting in legislative amendments, where pharmacies can now accept electronic prescriptions in the form of a photo, email or images.
We were successful in our advocacy of emergency dispensing changes to support the pandemic response and are working to ensure the vagaries of Tasmanian legislation regarding therapeutic substitution are addressed so that the clinical skills of pharmacists are recognised and workflow impacts are limited.
We now look to the future of ePrescribing to ensure that members are supported during this process. Amendments to State legislation must provide protection for patients and pharmacists and ensure that the patient’s choice of pharmacy is not undermined in this process.
We are working to convince government that provisions such as emergency supply legislation enacted for the pandemic response should be retained for the longer term, enabling access to medication in situations which constitute an ‘emergency or urgent need’.