Highlights from the NSW/ACT Annual Therapeutic Update

Pharmacist and federal MP Emma McBride MPS (left) with PSA NSW Branch President Chelsea Felkai MPS during a panel discussion.
Pharmacist and federal MP Emma McBride MPS (left) with PSA NSW Branch President Chelsea Felkai MPS during a panel discussion.

More than 150 COVID-safe pharmacists gathered in Manly in Sydney last weekend (13–14 March) for 2 days of professional and personal development at PSA’s 2021 NSW/ACT Annual Therapeutic Update.

For many, it was the first chance to network with colleagues face-to-face in 12 months, with a program that included NSW’s top health officials and some of the pharmacy profession’s best and brightest.

The event began with the unveiling of PSA’s new Medicine safety: rural and remote care report, launched by NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, who acknowledged the tough year all health workers, including pharmacists, had experienced.

NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard
NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard

‘We had bushfires, we had drought and of course we had COVID,’ he said.

‘The period of drought, when so many rural people were feeling despondent, thank you to pharmacists for taking that on. Not just the pharmaceutical and technical, medicinal support, but also psychological.

‘And in COVID, we were all knocked around … but you all rose to it, and I want to thank you for that.’

Pharmacist and federal shadow assistant minister for mental health and carers Emma McBride MPS also praised pharmacists for their efforts.

‘I’d like to thank each and every pharmacist … you have been critical in our national response to COVID-19,’ she said during a panel session.

‘Pharmacists have so much more to contribute if we were recognised and remunerated.’

Program highlights 

One of the most anticipated presentations was from New South Wales Chief Health Officer (and recently named NSW Woman of the Year) Dr Kerry Chant, who provided insights into the state’s COVID-19 response. 

Dr Kerry Chant

This included lessons learnt from the pandemic, such as how workforce gaps and infection control resulted in changes to practice that will continue after COVID-19.

In another session, one of Australia’s first advanced practice pharmacists, former PSA National President and CEO Dr Shane Jackson gave the audience insights into administering medicine by injection, including correct procedures and how to provide a medicine administration service to a range of consumers.

Another program highlight was the International Women’s Day breakfast hosted by PSA’s Early Career Pharmacist (ECP) Group, with a panel including RACGP NSW and ACT Chair Charlotte Hespe, Ms McBride, rural pharmacist Karen Carter FPS and NSW 2020 ECP of the Year Jennifer Culverson.

Awards announced

After opening with the report launch, day 1 of the conference closed on a high, with the NSW Pharmacists Awards evening.

New England pharmacist and academic Anna Barwick MPS received the NSW Pharmacist of the Year award, while NSW Branch Committee member and Chair of the NSW ECP working group Dr Sarah Dineen-Griffin MPS, won the NSW PSA Early Career Pharmacist award.

And the NSW Intern of the Year Award was given to Bridgette Mackley MPS, who interned at Wollongong Hospital and continues to work as a hospital pharmacist in the Illawarra area of NSW while she represents her state on PSA’s National ECP Group.

Presenting the awards, NSW PSA President Chelsea Felkai MPS said the winners highlighted the vital role of pharmacists across different practice settings and locations.

‘Pharmacists are often the first point of contact on medical and medicinal issues for the public, and this conference and these awards serve to bring our profession together to ensure we are delivering best possible service delivery to our communities,’ she said.

She said Ms Barwick, a former NSW Branch Committee member, had led work in telehealth and improving communications between pharmacists and the general community in the rural region where Ms Barwick lectures in pharmacy practice at the University of New England. Her pioneering work in this field led to the formation of PharmOnline, a 24/7 medicines telehealth advisory service.

Dr Dineen-Griffin, also Vice-President of the Next Generation Pharmacy Committee of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), has led research into pharmacists providing non-urgent care, minor ailment services and self-care.

Don’t miss the Queensland Annual Therapeutic Update this weekend (20–21 March) at QT Gold Coast.