Push for pharmacists to do more in Queensland

Pharmacist prescribing

A Queensland Government inquiry has recommended allowing pharmacists to provide some low-risk prescriptions, as well as lowering the minimum patient age requirement for pharmacist-administered vaccinations to 16 years.

A parliamentary inquiry into the establishment of a pharmacy council and transfer of pharmacy ownership in Queensland report recommends the state’s Department of Health develop options for pharmacists to provide low-risk emergency and repeat prescriptions (such as repeats of the contraceptive pill) and low-risk vaccinations (such as certain travel vaccinations) through pharmacies, subject to a risk minimisation framework.

Committee Chair and MP Aaron Harper said: ‘We see potential for pharmacists to do more than they currently do – with some prescribing of medications in low-risk situations and subject to a range of safeguards.

‘In framing our recommendations, the committee has sought to allay the concerns of the medical profession about changes to pharmacists’ scope of practice by including a number of safeguards as part of a more collaborative approach to prescribing.

‘We heard from many pharmacists they have a good working relationship with their local GPs, and we hope this will continue and strengthen as pharmacists play a greater role in prescribing certain medicines going forward.’

PSA Acting Queensland President Chris Campbell welcomed the recommendation to bring pharmacists closer to their full scope of practice.

‘The above recommendations are a step in the right direction but there are still more opportunities to take advantage of pharmacists’ unique expertise to better support the health of all Queenslanders.

‘Pharmacists are one of the most trusted and accessible health professionals in Queensland, but their skills have not been put to full use because legislation hinders some areas of practice,’ he said.

The inquiry also found there was no public interest case for establishing a separate pharmacy council to regulate pharmacy premises and ownership, instead recommending establishing a pharmacy advisory council containing a diverse range of members to provide expert advice to the Department of Health.

PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson welcomed that recommendation, as well as the Committee’s support of the current ownership provisions.

The inquiry’s recommendations will be considered by the Queensland Government before it issues a response.

Ravi Sharma, an independent prescriber from the UK, will visit Australia and work with PSA to provide valuable insights on autonomous prescribing in the UK and how to progress pharmacist prescribing in Australia. Registration is available here.