The Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch has called on all Western Australian political parties and independent candidates in the 2021 State General Election to support a greater role for community pharmacy in the delivery of primary health care to all Western Australians.
Community pharmacy is a state-wide network operating at over 660 locations, delivering individualised patient support through a combination of medicines supply, management advice and related health care to over one million Western Australians each week.
In releasing its 2021 State General Election Platform, Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA (PGAWA) Branch President Andrew Ngeow commented that “this Platform is essentially providing a plan for the next term of government to better utilise the community pharmacy network within Western Australia’s primary healthcare system. The Platform has been provided to all political parties and we are seeking their endorsement for its implementation.”
The 2021 State General Election Platform seeks commitment to:
- Increase Western Australians’ access to vaccinations (including when available, a COVID-19 vaccine) through an expanded community pharmacy immunisation program.
- Ensure the most vulnerable of Western Australians have a continued supply of medicines in time of emergency and disaster through maintaining the ‘COVID-19 Continuance of Critical Community Pharmacy Services’ model.
- Establish a strategic reserve of essential medicines for the Western Australian community.
- Work cooperatively with the Commonwealth Government to retain the temporary medicines dispensing changes introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and implementing these by introducing appropriate state-level authorisations.
- Include PGAWA on committees focused on Western Australia’s emergency and disaster (including pandemics) planning and preparedness, response and recovery measures.
- Engage with PGAWA to develop an implementation plan for the pharmacy-specific recommendations of the Sustainable Health Review and the Review of Community Pharmacy Ownership in Western Australia.
- Review the Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreement Act 1985, with consideration to include: a moratorium on rental increase for a transitional phase of at least twelve months from the end of the COVID-19 Emergency Period, and a guaranteed ‘departure with dignity clause’ for businesses that become insolvent through the COVID-19 Emergency Period.
- Encourage career pathways for pharmacy and dispensary assistants by providing financial incentives for their training at Certificate II – IV levels.
“The 2021 State General Election Platform combines both long-term policy positions with a number developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic”
Mr Ngeow said.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch has long advocated for an expansion of health care through community pharmacy. The need for the greater utilisation of community pharmacy was starkly reinforced through COVID-19, when community pharmacy responded effectively to the additional demand for medicines and health care, both in-pharmacy and via in-home support to isolating patients, at a time when there were significant levels of concern about the impact of COVID-19 on Western Australia’s hospital system and its GP network.
The 2021 State General Election Platform also addresses the two recent and significant reviews of community pharmacy’s operating environment.
In 2019 the Western Australian Government released the final reports of the sector-wide Sustainable Health Review and the Review of Community Pharmacy Ownership in Western Australia. Since their release however the COVID-19 pandemic has consumed considerable attention, investment and resources from the Western Australian Government and delayed the implementation of several of their recommendations.
“Our 2021 State General Election Platform can deliver better health benefits to Western Australians, whilst simultaneously addressing the financial, workforce and capacity challenges of the State’s health system that were identified in the two earlier reviews”
Mr Ngeow said.
In addition to the medicines and health care-focussed elements of the Platform, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch is also highlighting the need for a review of the Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act 1985, after having, for several years expressed concern with the lack of protection for tenants in this legislation.
“The Government should, as a matter of urgency, conduct a review of the Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreement Act 1985”
Mr Ngeow said. “The legislation has proven ineffective in providing appropriate levels of protection to tenants, including community pharmacies, and our recent experience has not delivered us any level of confidence that it will be suitable for the needs of these businesses in the post-COVID-19 recovering economy.”
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch is also seeking financial support for community pharmacy focussed training. There is an immediate need for a greater number of Dispensary Technicians and Pharmacy Assistants, and currently their associated training pathways are not included in any of the State Government’s skilled workforce development programs.
“This lack of inclusion is effectively discouraging employment growth in the sector, and most notably being felt in the rural and regional areas of the State”
Mr Ngeow said.