Queensland’s community pharmacists set to play an integral role in state’s post COVID-19 recovery

Media Release

The deep connection between community pharmacies and the Queensland public will be closer than ever in a post-COVID world, a key report published by the World Pharmacy Council on World Pharmacists Day has revealed.

The Sector Analysis Report confirms the vital role that community pharmacies play in supporting patients during the pandemic and other national emergencies. The provision of COVID-19 vaccinations, along with other key services highlighted within the report underline the greater role community pharmacists will play in alleviating some of the pressure on Australia’s health system over the coming months and years.

Minister for Health, Hon. Greg Hunt MP, announced today a $25 million investment into a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to improve the safe use of medicines through pharmacy. The new Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of Medicine Use and Medicine Intervention by Pharmacists MRFF Grant Opportunity will support the Quality Use of Medicine and Medicine Safety National Health Priority, Hon. Greg Hunt MP also recognised the immense work and extraordinary dedication that community pharmacists have to Australians, with a warm thank you message written in the World Pharmacy Council’s Report.

“[Thank] you for your extraordinary dedication and service to the Australian community. The Prime Minister, myself and the whole Cabinet have seen the immense work being undertaken under extreme pressure. Many of you are working around the clock, literally, to ensure that critical medicines and health advice is available for those who need it most. We could not be more appreciative or thankful,” Hon. Greg Hunt MP said in the Report.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch President and World Pharmacy Council Secretary, Professor Trent Twomey, said that empowering community pharmacists to practise to their full scope of work, as well as delivering initiatives to assist in the post-COVID recovery, would lower primary health care costs for everyday Australians and provide better health outcomes for patients.

“As we celebrate World Pharmacists Day it is important to remember that community pharmacists are one of the most trusted primary health care professions and are valued by consumers, who on average, visit their local pharmacy ‘health hub’ 18 times a year1.”

“Community pharmacists work locally to help transform healthcare globally, as is the theme of the 10th World Pharmacists Day, which we’re celebrating today.”

“With 97% of consumers living within 2.5km of their local community pharmacy, and 65% in regional areas2, it makes sense for Queenslanders to be supported with safe and convenient access to key primary healthcare services, including the COVID-19 vaccine, when available,” Professor Twomey said.

Community pharmacists will be front and centre when a COVID-19 vaccine is approved and rolled out on a large scale. In Queensland, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the state would use the enormous network of almost 1,200 community pharmacies when a future COVID-19 vaccine became available so all Queenslanders could safely and conveniently access the vaccination.

Professor Twomey said that community pharmacists are proud to support Queenslanders and will continue to work hard to keep them safe and healthy. Pharmacies across Australia are an essential element of a united and accessible primary health care workforce.

“This year Queensland community pharmacies have been involved in the Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot’s launch to advance women’s healthcare, enhanced home delivery services, vaccination administration, medication substitution and Continued Dispensing arrangements, which demonstrates our ability to offer a wide array of primary health care solutions to the public.”

“The state’s vast network of almost 6,000 practising pharmacists stands ready to continue supporting Queenslanders3.”

“Queensland community pharmacist vaccinators are already trained to deliver vaccinations and are well-placed to conveniently and safely roll-out a COVID-19 vaccine, when available.”

“In other World Pharmacy Council member countries, like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark and Spain, pharmacists have continued to play a substantial role in their public health systems, further stepping up in 2020 to be a pillar of collaborative frontline primary healthcare,” Professor Twomey added.

“Giving community pharmacists a greater role to treat common ailments, issue repeat prescriptions for stable and ongoing conditions, and administer more vaccinations, will provide better health outcomes and make accessing basic primary health care more affordable. Community pharmacists are Australia’s most accessible health professionals, helping Australians with more than 458 million individual patient visits annually and are often providing free primary healthcare advice5,” Professor Twomey said.

Professor Twomey encouraged all Australians to thank their local community pharmacist by tagging them and sharing the Queensland Branch’s World Pharmacists Day video online.

References

1. Roy Morgan. 2017. Roy Morgan Image Of Professions Survey 2017: Health Professionals Continue Domination With Nurses Most Highly Regarded Again; Followed By Doctors And Pharmacists. [online] Available at: https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7244-roy-morgan-image-of-professions-may-2017-201706051543> [Accessed 31 July 2020].

2. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, 2016. Submission To Review Of Pharmacy Remuneration And Regulation. [online] Canberra, p.6. Available at: https://www.guild.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/12957/guild-submission-to-review-of-pharmacy-remuneration-and-regulation-2016.pdf> [Accessed 31 July 2020].

3. Pharmacy Board Of Australia. 2020. Registration Data Table – March 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.pharmacyboard.gov.au/About/Statistics.aspx> [Accessed 31 July 2020].

4. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, 2020. Vital Facts On Community Pharmacy. [online] The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, p.1. Available at: https://www.guild.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0028/91909/PGA-August_260820.pdf > [Accessed 23 September 2020].

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