PSA will work with government to address the pressing issue of medicine safety.

When it comes to healthcare, use of medicines is arguably the most common intervention. But this means that medicine-related problems are also common. As the custodians of medicine safety, pharmacists must take the lead on working with government and consumers to ensure this issue is addressed.

Medicine-related problems cause 250,000 hospital admissions and 400,000 emergency department presentations in Australia each year, costing the healthcare system $1.4 billion annually. At least half of this harm is avoidable and pharmacists, with their unique expertise in medicines and medicine management, are ideally placed to identify and help resolve these issues.

The Morrison Government accepted PSA’s pre-election request to declare medicine safety a National Health Priority Area. In his communications with PSA, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, agreed with the urgency of the issue and stated, ‘This is why the Morrison Government will declare quality use of medicines and medicines safety a National Health Priority Area. We will work through the Council of Australian Governments Health Council, with the Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Healthcare, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and key stakeholders to support the initiation of this priority.’

I am pleased to announce that Minister Hunt will officially open PSA’s annual conference PSA19 on Friday 26 July. It will be highly beneficial to PSA and conference delegates to hear the government’s perspective on medicine safety, the upcoming 7th Community Pharmacy Agreement, as well as other key healthcare challenges, and how the pharmacy profession can work with government to address these.

Again, in the Government’s correspondence with PSA prior to the election, the Minister for Health stated, ‘A re-elected Morrison Government will continue to support the pharmacy profession in meeting community health needs by ensuring that pharmacists are utilised to their full scope of practice.

‘The Morrison Government will provide ongoing support for patients through the continuation and expansion of community pharmacy programs in the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement. This agreement will also seek to strengthen the frameworks to enable pharmacists to be utilised to their full scope of practice.’

With medicine safety at the top of PSA’s agenda, we also look forward to welcoming Canadian patient safety advocate Melissa Sheldrick to Australia in July. Melissa’s eight-year-old son Andrew died in March 2016 after a series of errors were made during the dispensing process at her regular pharmacy. Since this time she has been advocating for mandatory medication incident reporting in Canada.

Melissa will be the keynote speaker at PSA19 and, together with PSA, will also be attending meetings with key politicians to discuss possible medicine safety initiatives within Australia’s healthcare system. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at PSA’s national conference, PSA19 from 26–28 July 2019.