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Guild releases response to Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch has provided its submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Establishment of a Pharmacy Council and Pharmacy Ownership in Queensland.

Queensland Guild Vice President Kos Sclavos said that the establishment of a Pharmacy Council will bring Queensland into line with all other Australian jurisdictions and will play an important role in bridging health gaps where pharmacies’ competencies could assist a health system under pressure.

“First and foremost, the Guild supports the establishment of a Pharmacy Council in Queensland to ensure transparency of pharmacy ownership and structure,” Kos said.

“Furthermore, as Queensland is such a decentralised State in terms of pharmacy services, we would like a Pharmacy Council to hold a public record of Queensland pharmacies, and the key pharmacy services they offer. This would support best practice in dissemination of information on metropolitan, regional and rural pharmacies as front line health providers, and is critical at times of pandemic or health crises.

“Patient support groups often ask the Guild for such pharmacy lists, in particular key services such as methadone dispensing, needle and syringe, medicinal cannabis dispensing and even specialty language staff facilitators to ensure accurate and appropriate health outcomes are delivered to all Queenslanders.

“Queensland is out of step with other States and merely seeks to be brought into line,” Kos said.

The Inquiry is also reviewing the expanded role of pharmacists and pharmacy assistants in Queensland.

“Based on international data, we believe that existing competencies by pharmacists need to be utilised in a structured manner in the Queensland health system. This is a vital, first step before expanded scope of practice opportunities for pharmacists are considered and implemented across the health system,” Kos said.

“In addition, the Guild believes that the current status of pharmacy assistants being regarded as ‘consumers’ according to the TGA advertising guidelines is totally inadequate.

“In 2018, with the advent of electronic health records, real time monitoring of specific medicines and the increasing of burden of administrative tasks with professional pharmacy programs, pharmacy assistants can play a key, non-clinical role in supporting pharmacists. For this to occur, a level of understanding in key clinical areas is essential, and one that requires education to pharmacy assistants by manufacturers and other health providers which is currently prohibited,” Kos said.

Although not in the terms of reference, the Inquiry has also posed a number of questions regarding pharmacy ownership.

“The terms of reference of the Inquiry are quite restrictive, however the feedback the committee is seeking is quite broad including issues on pharmacy ownership. The Guild has passionately defended the current ownership structure which continues to serve the healthcare needs of the Australian public extremely well,” Kos said.

Public hearings will be held in Brisbane on Monday 20 August, and Monday 3 September, 2018. The final reporting deadline from the Inquiry Committee is Sunday 30 September, 2018.

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