Date: 14 August 2019
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has today released a policy paper, Community Pharmacies: Part of the Solution, identifying an underutilisation of Australian pharmacists.
The National President, George Tambassis, said community pharmacists could play a greater role in our healthcare system and help improve accessibility and affordability for Australian families.
“The policy basis is clear, the Australian health system is not adapting to our aging and growing population, leaving Australian families frustrated by long GP wait times and increasing out-of-pocket expenses,” Mr Tambassis said.
“We found allowing pharmacists to perform to their full scope in the health system – including treating common ailments, dispensing medication for stable and ongoing medical conditions, and administering vaccines, could relieve pressure on GPs and Emergency Departments, freeing them up to spend more time with their patients.
In recent years, more than half a million Australians did not visit a GP because the cost was too high, Mr Tambassis said.
“The policy paper found pharmacists are in a unique position to relieve the stresses and strains on the health system by fulfilling their scope of practice. They give more free health advice than any other health professional with more than 451 million visits to community pharmacies last year alone.
Mr Tambassis said giving pharmacists a bigger role would have the most impact in regional Australia where the GP shortage was most pronounced.
“Much of regional and rural Australia is struggling with a shortage of GPs. When people living in regional areas already have poorer health outcomes than those in cities, we should be doing everything to improve their access to high quality, affordable healthcare.
He emphasised pharmacists undergo half a decade training prior to being registered and are then required to undertake continuous professional development every year.
“This would see pharmacists use their training to the full. Pharmacists playing a bigger role in the health systems overseas has seen savings for consumers and government and made care more accessible.
“What we saw especially in Canada and the UK, where pharmacists practised at their full scope meant less pressure on GPs and EDs, better outcomes for patients, and a more affordable and accessible healthcare system.
“According to the policy paper pharmacists would only treat to the extent of their training and are quick to refer patients to their GP or an ED when their health issue was beyond this training or patients needed reassurance.
“Community pharmacies are the most accessible place to get health advice. It makes sense to make the most of pharmacists as part of the solution to the healthcare concerns of Australians,” Mr Tambassis said.
Contact: Greg Turnbull
Phone: 0412 910 261