Professionals Australia Submission to SA Select Committee on Access to Urinary Tract Treatment

Employee pharmacists must not be left carrying the costs of training and indemnity insurance cover associated with the expansion of the profession’s scope of practice

In a submission to the South Australia Select Committee on Access to Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Treatment, Professional Pharmacists Australia has stated it supports pharmacists being able to work to their full scope of practice, including diagnosis and prescribing for UTIs following feedback from our members.

However, Paul Inglis, the union’s South Australian director, raised several concerns about the potential rollout of a pharmacist prescribing trial in the state, including the increased risk of burnout due to the additional workload they will take on.

“There is currently a significant shortage of pharmacists across the country with acute shortages in rural and regional areas,” he said.

“This shortage, coupled with an increasing demand on pharmacists’ time is resulting in high levels of work stress and burnout.

“Any additional work demands on pharmacists will increase their already high workloads, further adding to work-related stress and risks to workplace health and safety in community pharmacy settings.

“To provide timely access to UTI treatment, pharmacists will require capacity, resources, and adequate time to effectively consult with and treat patients.”

Inglis noted that there had been “inadequate consultation with employee pharmacists and Professionals Australia in the design, implementation and assessment” of the UTI Pharmacy Pilot – Queensland (UTIPP-Q) and urged the committee to ensure that the union is included in the development of a South Australian trial.

With pharmacists the lowest paid degree-qualified health professionals, Inglis said there was a need to ensure employees who provide prescribing services will be appropriately remunerated for practicing to their full scope.

“We recommend that pharmacists are fairly compensated for performing additional services,” he said.

“We are concerned that professional indemnity insurance premiums for pharmacists could increase as pharmacists assume greater responsibility.

“Any increased insurance costs will unfairly fall on working pharmacists – the impact of insurance costs will need to be monitored and addressed in pharmacists’’ remunerations.” Inglis added that employee pharmacists should not be left to cover the cost of any training needed to upskill to be able to prescribe.

“We recommend that pharmacists are given adequate paid time to undertake the training, the costs of all training are met by the employer (including any refresher training), and the suitability of the training is assessed and monitored,” he said.