A win for patients - the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot

Date: 13 October 2022

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch President Chris Owen warmly welcomed the Palaszczuk Government's announcement today that the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot (North Queensland Community Pharmacy Pilot) will commence in late 2023.

The North Queensland Community Pharmacy Pilot will authorise community pharmacists to treat patients for everyday health conditions, such as mild to moderate acne, impetigo, rhinitis and atopic dermatitis.

Community pharmacists taking part in the North Queensland Pharmacy Pilot will be required to undergo a further twelve months of post-graduate level education and training in addition to the five years of university training and pre-registration training already completed to become a registered pharmacist.

Mr. Owen congratulated the Queensland Government for their leadership and recognised their commitment to enhancing patient care and increasing access to world class healthcare services in Queensland, with this Pilot being one solution to help decrease unnecessary emergency department presentations and ambulance ramping.

"Premier Palaszczuk and Minister D'Ath have shown great foresight and a true commitment to delivering better health services through this announcement today," said Mr. Owen.

"The North Queensland Pharmacy Pilot will deliver improved health outcomes for patients in North Queensland and help ease some of the burdens on busy GPs and overcrowded emergency departments. Fewer North Queenslanders will need to wait longer than recommended to receive the care they need. They will be able to access the right care in the right place at the right time."

"Too many patients do not have access to a GP or have to wait too long to get an appointment," Mr. Owen said, "today's announcement means that for everyday health conditions, North Queenslanders will be able to choose to get the care they need from their local community pharmacy."

"More than 97% of metropolitan and 66% of regional Queenslanders live within 2.5km of a community pharmacy, and on average, every person visits a community pharmacy 18 times each year, in metropolitan, rural and remote locations."

"We know that some communities do not have access to a GP; however, they do have a community pharmacist. Community pharmacists are one of the most trusted health professionals, with patients’ trust of their local pharmacist growing even stronger during the COVID-19 pandemic when pharmacies were open and accessible for their patients every day.”

Pleasingly, last night the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Pilot received ongoing bi-partisan support at the Pharmacy Guild’s Annual Parliamentary reception at the Queensland Parliament, with the Queensland Government and Opposition Leader committing to the Pilot’s implementation and supporting Community Pharmacists practicing to their full scope .This builds on the bi-partisan commitments made by all major political parties in Queensland to implement such a pilot at the last state election.

Mr. Owen said the North Queensland Pharmacy Pilot was in line with the needs of the community and would bring Queensland into line with other international jurisdictions where primary healthcare professionals are practicing to their full scope. All health practitioners should practice to their full scope, not just Community Pharmacists.

"Today's announcement brings North Queensland pharmacists in line with community pharmacists in other jurisdictions like parts of Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Regardless of where Queenslanders live, they should have timely access to world-class healthcare," said Mr. Owen.

"Based on research carried out by independent research firm Insightfully, half of North Queenslanders with chronic diseases and conditions often can't see their regular GP, with access problems made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The research also found that nearly four in ten respondents agreed they were waiting an unacceptable length of time to secure a GP appointment," said Mr. Owen.

"Critically, more than a quarter of North Queenslander participants have had to visit an emergency department due to lack of GP access."

"Today's announcement of the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot will mean patients will have more options to getting timely treatment for these health conditions and will also take pressure off of our already over-burdened GP clinics and emergency departments," said Mr. Owen.

Contact: Jeff Popp
Phone: 0438 153 857

Page last updated on: 13 October 2022