The King Review – where to now?

As PSA National President, I will continue to work with the government and other stakeholders to unlock opportunities for pharmacists to realise their full potential – focusing on scope of practice fulfilment, practitioner development and quality in practice.

The government has recognised PSA’s role in articulating the values of the pharmacy profession through the Code of Ethics for  Pharmacists and standards of professional practice in their response. This recognition demonstrates how PSA brings the voice of all pharmacists to key policy and decision makers in government.

In addition, the government noted the report’s recommendation that the stakeholders included in the consultation of future Community Pharmacy Agreements (CPA) ‘should represent those who deliver on the agreed services’. The report specifically stated that involvement of PSA and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia would improve overall transparency and sustainability of the sector.

We wholeheartedly agree that having a variety of stakeholders, including the PSA, providing input into the Community Pharmacy Agreement should bring about the necessary improvements in the outcomes of this funding for community pharmacy.

As the only government-appointed peak national body for ALL pharmacists, PSA will need to be more actively involved in all discussions that relate to proposed professional programs.

This would give a genuine voice to all pharmacists working to deliver services to the community. Having a consumer voice would help ensure programs and services are truly consumer- centred and fit for purpose in meeting their health needs.

I was also pleased to see the government’s in-principle support to explore revising the PBS Safety Net to improve transparency and consumer experience, and how collection of information through the My Health Record may help address this.

In partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency, PSA has championed the My Health Record and the important opportunity it provides for improving care.

The government’s positive response to the recommendation for implementation of an electronic prescribing system supports our response to the interim report; Australia is long overdue for such a system, and consumer choice should be a fundamental principle underpinning its use.

Pharmacists have the highest level of knowledge and practical experience of both the regulatory and practice aspects related to prescribing, managing prescription use and information – and ALL the problems that come from this.

However, in acknowledging the role of technology, the vital importance of the face-to-face interaction with a pharmacist in the provision of medicines was one of the reasons why Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt stated the government would not support a vending-machine dispensing trial.

While the government response to the report’s recommendations may be perceived as somewhat muted and overdue, I can only see this as an opportunity and a platform for the next phase of reform.

As National President, I will continue to work with government on behalf of all pharmacists to improve the quality use of medicines in Australia.