Australia urged to make the most of its pharmacists’ skills

Our country needs to work harder to make the most of its pharmacists' abilities, states the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Liesel Wett, chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, announced that fully utilising the skills and knowledge of the industry's labour force could help to alleviate "growing pressures on the health budget", as well as provide improve health services to the public.

"Pharmacists are the most accessible of all health professionals and are trained and equipped to deal with a wide range of minor ailments which currently are often unnecessarily undertaken by doctors," said Ms Wett in a January 2 statement.

She went on to say employees in this profession are more than capable of treating patients "safely and efficiently", with an awareness that any cases they do not have the skills or knowledge to manage themselves should be referred to a GP or other medical professional.

If our country's pharmacists were permitted to handle such "minor ailments" themselves, this would leave GPs all over Australia with more time and energy to treat patients who actually need their expertise and reduce the number of "unnecessary visits to doctors' surgeries," claims Ms Wett.

A report recently published by the Grattan Institute, titled New Solutions for GP Shortages in Rural Australia, supports the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia's argument.

It states that allowing pharmacists to play a greater role, especially "providing repeat prescriptions and vaccinations", will go a long way toward helping Australians in remote areas access the health services they require.

According to the report, pharmacists in many other countries, including the US, Canada and the UK, are permitted to administer vaccinations – proof, stated Ms Wett, that Australia's pharmaceutical industry is "lagging".