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First cohort of community pharmacists embarks on university course for the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot

The North Queensland Community Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot is officially underway with 175 registered community pharmacists embarking on higher education and training from Monday 27 March through the Queensland University of Technology. 

Under the guidance of the Queensland University of Technology, James Cook University and the Australasian College of Pharmacy, two cohorts of pharmacists will undertake graduate certificate-level, evidenced-based training, which is currently used in other Australian non-medical prescribing pathways.

Chris Owen, Queensland Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said the response from community pharmacists to be part of the Pilot has been extremely positive. 

“The response to the enrolment process itself has been incredible. Places for the first cohort were filled in less than a week with 175 eligible pharmacists starting their journey today. 

“With the second cohort allocation close to reaching capacity, this Pilot is set to modernise primary healthcare by giving patients greater accessibility to seek treatment for everyday common conditions, which will remove unnecessary wait times to see GPs or patients presenting to an emergency department.

“I’m so proud that the first independent prescriber in Australia will come out of North Queensland. It is a testament to the hundreds of committed community pharmacy professionals ready to embrace working to their full scope of practice,” says Mr Owen.

The Pilot will allow community pharmacists in North Queensland to prescribe medicines for common conditions such as nausea and vomiting, reflux, and mild skin conditions, and provide health and well-being services including hormonal contraception, oral health screening, weight management and support to quit smoking.

It will also let pharmacists prescribe medicines as part of structured chronic disease management programs such as cardiovascular disease risk reduction, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr Owen goes on to explain that the Pilot framework will continue to ensure meaningful collaboration between a patient, their pharmacist and GP through active communication and referrals, meaning patients will have more options for getting timely access to treatment. 

“If a patient can receive healthcare in a timely manner by their local community pharmacist, this may prevent them waiting weeks to see their GP or presenting to the emergency department. 

“This will also support GPs by having greater capacity to have appointments, available to see their patients with more complex needs, including longer consultations.

“At the end of the year patients will be able to receive treatment by trained community pharmacists in a safe and private consultation room when they need it,” says Mr Owen.   

The second cohort will begin training through James Cook University on 3 July 2023, with the first occasion of service expected to be delivered in North Queensland by the trained group of cohort 1 at the end of 2023. 

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