Celebrating pharmacists

Date: 14 September 2022

By Suzanne Greenwood, Executive Director

On 25 September we will celebrate World Pharmacists Day, which gives us all an opportunity to take some time to reflect on everything these wonderful health professionals do for us every day.

Their commitment and passion to the healthcare of Australians has been highlighted during the more than two-and-a-half years since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Australia on 25 January 2020, an event which subsequently caused many of us to rely more and more on our community pharmacists for help and advice. The very nature of the pandemic meant some other health professionals were unavailable, but community pharmacists kept their doors open.

This is especially important as pharmacists are among the most trusted health professionals in the country, a position which means communities have confidence that when they go into their local community pharmacy the advice, service and information they get is targeted and relevant.

During the pandemic, we have seen how important that level of trust is. Countless people have come into their pharmacy to speak to their pharmacists for clarification about what has often been confusing messaging about how to manage COVID-19. Having a source of up-to-date and reliable information which they can access easily - often out of normal business hours and on weekends - has helped ease the stresses for many people.

On top of that has been the fact that our community pharmacists have been absolutely pivotal in helping the country move towards a new state of normalcy, by being central hubs for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations. Even more could have been achieved if pharmacists had been brought into the rollout sooner. Since given the green light to provide these vaccinations in June last year, the sector has administered close to 9 million vaccinations. Again, the fact that pharmacies were open longer hours when the vaccination hubs and GP clinics were not available, has been integral to the success of pharmacists’ involvement. Put simply, the vaccination rollout was in danger of stalling till pharmacists were brought in.

When the governments across Australia decided to loosen restrictions and encouraged the use of rapid antigen tests to determine if people may have COVID-19, it was the local pharmacist who helped source supply in a tight market and kept patients informed of developments.

This has all been in addition to pharmacists continuing to provide all the services, advice and help that we have become so accustomed to, even before the word COVID entered our lives. The services which patients have come to expect are still being provided over and above the additional stresses and workloads that the pandemic has imposed on the pharmacies and their patients.

On top of this, pharmacists are looking at other ways they can help patients, and we refer to that as working to their full scope of practice. Pharmacists are trained and skilled in so many more health services they can provide and we are urging that they be allowed to utilise these skills fully, including being able to dispense, administer and review medicines.

On World Pharmacists Day this year we will be releasing an important report which looks at pharmacists’ full scope of practice and assesses the opportunities this provides; and again the pandemic has underscored the need to progress this. During the pandemic we have seen emergency departments turning many people away, elective surgeries being cancelled, and many GPs opting for telehealth consultations, while pharmacies were still open and there for their patients. Pharmacists saw a lot of people with clinical presentations, who ordinarily would have sought advice from either a hospital or a general practitioner, seek help from their pharmacist. There was a new reliance on community pharmacies during this time and an expansion in the provision of primary healthcare at community pharmacies.

The theme for this World Pharmacists Day is pharmacy united in action for a healthier world and that ties in well with pharmacists being allowed to do more for their patients. We will be working closely with our World Pharmacy Council colleagues to celebrate the day and highlight what pharmacists do – and can do.

I hope you join me on 25 September to take time to thank all our community pharmacists and to support them as they seek to do even more to help you. This is just the start of a journey we can take together for a healthier world.

Contact: The Guild
Phone: 13GUILD

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Page last updated on: 14 September 2022