Putting patients first – reducing non-urgent Emergency Department presentations and preventable hospitalisations

Date: 11 February 2022

This morning, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President, Professor Trent Twomey, and Queensland Branch President, Chris Owen provided evidence in support for a Full Scope of Practice Trial for community pharmacists in North Queensland at the Inquiry into the provision of primary, allied and private health care, aged care and NDIS care services and its impact on the Queensland public health system.

With Queensland public hospitals and emergency departments already stretched, primary health practitioners practising to their full scope will help to alleviate patient access to world-class health care. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland President, Chris Owen, made no apologies for putting patients first.

“As primary health care professionals, our duty is to our patients and the care we give them.”

“If community pharmacists and other primary health care professionals could practice to their full scope, then the incidence and management of chronic diseases could be better managed, preventable hospitalisations and non-urgent Emergency Department (ED) presentations reduced, and better health outcomes delivered for Queenslanders.”

“Some of the ED demand is often for conditions that could have been prevented or better managed within a local primary healthcare setting1” said Mr. Owen

“In addition to non-urgent ED presentations, there are significant shortages of primary health care practitioners of all types across Queensland, Mr. Owen said, “In regional, rural and remote areas this shortage is most acute.”

“More than 1,200 community pharmacies offer safe and easily accessible primary healthcare across Queensland. 234 of those located in rural towns, remote and very remote communities as defined by the Modified Monash Model.2

“Community pharmacists are highly trained and trusted by Queensland patients and in a position to do more,” Mr. Owen said, “On average every person visits their community pharmacy 18 times each year, in metropolitan, rural and remote locations.3"

“Increasing qualified pharmacist’s scope of practice will not only provide better local primary health care, but will save the Queensland public health care system an estimated $1,302m from non-urgent emergency department presentations over 20 years.4

“Practising to full scope is not a world first solution,” said Mr. Owen, “OECD countries like the United Kingdom (UK), Canada and in part, in New Zealand, have shown that this solution works.”

“Community pharmacists participating in the trial will undertake additional University supervised education and training.”

“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, alongside many others like ACCRM, AMA, RACGP, WQPHN, NQPHN, PDL and Health Consumers Queensland are part of a Steering Reference Group for the Full Scope of Practice Pilot in North Queensland,” said Mr. Owen, “We welcome everyone’s participation.”

“Times are changing. The community wants and deserves access to convenient, safe and accessible healthcare, which community pharmacists can provide without an appointment, during extending trading hours, and via convenient locations which are less than 2.5km away from 97% of Queenslanders.”

“We make no apology for putting patients first, reducing non-urgent Emergency Department presentations and preventing hospitalisations.”

1 https://documents.parliament.qld.gov.au/com/HEC-B5E1/INDISQ-3CD2/Proof%20-%20Public%20Hearing%20-%20Cairns%20-%207%20February%202022.pdf

2 Guild CRM GEMM data 9/2/2022

3 ABS Demographic Statistics, PBS Date of Supply

4 EY – Scope of Practice Opportunity Assessment – Feb 2020

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Page last updated on: 14 February 2022