1. PSA calls for support to allow pharmacists to do more for public health
November 8, 2018
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) calls on Victoria’s political parties to improve Victorians’ access to healthcare by allowing pharmacists to do more, including through Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) services.
PSA Victorian President Benjamin Marchant said pharmacists were the most frequently contacted health professionals in Victoria, yet their skills were not being put to full use.
“The upcoming Victorian state election is the ideal time to commit to new reforms for a healthier Victoria, and PSA urges Victorian political parties to take full advantage of the highly trained pharmacist workforce by committing to provide $2.2 million in seed funding for a pilot of the shared care model for MATOD services in Victoria.”
MATOD services consist of two key components to fight licit and illicit drug abuse and misuse – prescribing doctors or nurse practitioners, and pharmacists who dispense the medications and monitor treatment progress on a daily basis.
Mr Marchant said there was overwhelming evidence that illicit drugs and misuse of pharmaceutical medicines were a major community concern, creating a significant burden on the Victorian health system, law enforcement and community welfare.
“The referral pathway to support and manage addiction is at breaking point and MATOD services are under enormous pressure,” he said.
“There is a severe shortage of MATOD prescribers despite the Victorian government’s repeated efforts over many years to recruit doctors and nurse practitioners.
“With the implementation of Victoria’s real-time prescription monitoring system, SafeScript, over the next 18 months, the demand for MATOD services is likely to increase significantly, putting additional pressure on the already strained prescriber pool.”
After consulting with a broad range of stakeholders, PSA has determined there is scope for pharmacists to support a more sustainable collaborative model that provides consumers with wider options, reduces pressure on prescribers and ensures a more holistic approach to patients’ wellbeing.
Mr Marchant said, “There is strong evidence that government funding for MATOD would enhance compliance, minimise stigma and encourage more pharmacists to offer this much-needed service. This funding has received universal support from the Victorian Alcohol and Other Drugs sector and is one of the recommendations of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry on Drug Law Reform.”
To support this service, PSA calls on Victorian political parties to fully fund MATOD dispensing and management fees for patients.
PSA also urges political parties to allow the public to be able to receive the full range of National Immunisation Program vaccines from pharmacists.
“Victorian pharmacists have provided vaccinations since 2016 and the public has given excellent feedback on the safety and convenience of this service,” Mr Marchant said. “More Victorians than ever have been immunised, including many people for the first time.”
International and local research has shown pharmacists can boost vaccination rates, and independent research commissioned by PSA has revealed almost two-in-three Australians believe pharmacists should be able to administer a broader range of vaccinations.
Mr Marchant said, “The restricted range of pharmacist vaccination is needlessly forcing people to visit multiple providers to get fully immunised under the National Immunisation Program, creating unnecessary barriers that compromise the population’s overall immunity.
“Victorians clearly value the work pharmacists are doing and believe they can do more. Now is the time to remove these constraints to give the public better access to the health services they need.”
PSA is also calling for the appointment of a Chief Pharmacist in Victoria to make better use of pharmacist resources.
“The Chief Pharmacist would provide a crucial link between regulation, programs, funding and infrastructure.
This much-needed position would foster collaboration between pharmacy and other health professions, and provide advice to the government to advance policy development, planning and health reform,” Mr Marchant said.
“Pharmacists are a critical part of the Victorian health system, helping to implement major reforms such as real-time prescription monitoring, Supercare 24-hour pharmacies, chronic diseases management and drug law reform.
“The above measures are urgently needed to improve health outcomes for Victorians and ease the burden on the overloaded health system.”
2. New campaign urges Victorian smokers to seek advice from Quit-trained pharmacists
Tuesday 30 October 2018
A new campaign from Quit Victoria and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is encouraging Victorian smokers to chat to their local pharmacists for advice and support to help them on their quitting journey.
This year, Quit Victoria has trained hundreds of pharmacists across Victoria to improve their confidence and ability to provide advice to patients about quitting.
New figures show around 1 in 6 (16.7%) people in Victoria[i] currently smoke[ii], so Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White encouraged smokers to make the most of the accessible and expert information pharmacists can offer.
“When it comes to quitting, people can feel alone and unsure of what the best approach is, or where to go for support and advice. Sadly, just one in five people use the most effective quitting approach when trying to stop smoking – which is to combine Quitline coaching with the appropriate use of nicotine replacement products suited to you,” said Dr White.
“Pharmacists can discuss the best therapy for you and ensure its correct use. Pharmacists can also refer you to Quitline for free, personalised quitting coaching.
“We’ve trained hundreds of pharmacists across Victoria to equip them with the skills they need to start useful quitting conversations with smokers, connect them with Quitline and offer advice on pharmacotherapy.
“And the good news is that in Victoria, there are more former smokers (25%) than current smokers (16.7%), which proves that quitting is entirely achievable.”
PSA Victorian Branch President Ben Marchant said pharmacists were in a perfect position to give smokers advice and support.
“Pharmacists are medication experts and are ideally placed to offer quit information and support to their patients. They can advise on how smoking may reduce the effectiveness of medications, and the correct way of using nicotine replacement products to maximise benefits. Pharmacists can also refer patients to their doctor for a prescription medicine,” Mr Marchant said.
“They can also advise you on the best way to quit and sign you up for a free Quitline coaching session if you’re ready.
“So whether you’re just thinking about quitting, are ready to dive in, or are trying to stay smoke-free, your pharmacist can offer friendly support and practical advice to help you on your journey.”
Between June and September, Quit Victoria delivered accredited professional development training to pharmacists in several locations across metropolitan and regional Victoria.
The training was accredited by PSA.
The Victoria-wide campaign encouraging smokers to speak to their pharmacists about quitting will air on radio, digital and in medical waiting rooms until late December.
PSA is the peak national professional pharmacy organisation representing Australia’s 30,000 pharmacists working in all sectors and across all locations.
Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, the State Government of Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria. For more information, visit: www.quit.org.au
3. Pharmacists to vaccinate against more diseases in NSW
26 October 2018
Pharmacists will be able to protect the NSW public against whooping cough and measles, the NSW Government has announced in a move welcomed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).
Pharmacists will help make immunisation more accessible by vaccinating against diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTpa) and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) from 1 January 2019.
The dTPa and MMR vaccines, along with the influenza vaccines pharmacists currently provide, will be available to patients 16 years and over.
PSA NSW President Professor Peter Carroll congratulated the Government for allowing pharmacists to provide more vaccines.
“Many people within the community do not regularly visit a GP, and allowing accredited pharmacists to administer dTpa and MMR vaccines will significantly increase the immunisation rate within the community, and reduce the incidence of these diseases.
“The administration of vaccines by pharmacists complements the excellent work done by GPs. It increases the immunisation rate, and has a positive effect on people’s health in NSW.”
As the peak national body for pharmacists, PSA has advocated for many years in collaboration with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to allow pharmacists to deliver more vaccinations.
Pharmacists in NSW have given influenza vaccines to people 18 years and over since 2016. They already provide dTpa and MMR vaccinations in other states such as the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council recently announced their decision to establish a working group to consider a nationally consistent approach to pharmacist administered vaccinations.
PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson said a nationally consistent approach would make vaccinations more accessible for all Australians.
“I commend the NSW Government for making full use of pharmacists’ expertise and training to better protect the community.
“We look forward to working with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to ensure pharmacists across the country are better equipped to provide a wide range of vaccinations.”
PSA will contact pharmacists in NSW about the training available for them to provide vaccinations.