Flood-affected pharmacists are begging for support

16 September 2022



The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has today joined the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and other health sector leaders to call for immediate funding and support for healthcare providers in flood affected areas of northern New South Wales.


Members of the Natural Disaster and Emergency General Practice and Primary Health Partnership Group (the NDE Group) are in Lismore today, including PSA NSW President Chelsea Felkai.


Ms Felkai says that pharmacists in the region had shown their passion and dedication during these disasters, putting the health and wellbeing of their communities first.


“We’ve seen pharmacists on the back of jetskis trying to get medicines to people who need them, that’s how dedicated they are.


“Natural disasters are becoming more frequent, meaning we need plans in place to ensure that quality health care is accessible after a disaster. The NSW Rural Doctors Network’s Healthcare Flood Recovery Grant Proposal would allow pharmacists to get back to doing what they do best – providing expert health advice to the community.


“Many of these pharmacists have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock, and some have lost their pharmacies all together. We cannot support the health of our communities if the government doesn’t support us.


“PSA is proud to stand with leaders from across the healthcare sector to call for greater funding and support to re-establish quality, accessible health care in flood-affected regions.”


Ms Felkai added that mechanisms like permanent, one-month emergency supply arrangements also need to be put in place to allow patients to easily access their essential medicines in the event of a disaster.


Current temporary emergency supply arrangements require the medicine to have been previously prescribed, as well as evidence that the patient is in immediate need of the medicines for continued treatment. These arrangements were introduced during the 2019 bushfires to ensure continued access to medicines, but the NSW Authority expires on 30 September 2022.


“Permanent one-month supply arrangements would allow patients to continue taking their ongoing medicines during and after a disaster, where their scripts and documents may have been destroyed and prescriber appointments aren’t available.


“The Commonwealth continued dispensing arrangements are not fit for emergency purpose.  Many of the medicines where there is an absolute imperative to continue therapy have been left off this arrangement – things like anticoagulants, antidepressants, epilepsy medicines. In a disaster situation it is the patients on these sorts of medicines who will suffer.


“Emergency supply is a last resort but giving pharmacists the ability to continue providing medicines in these situations is vital to public health, especially during disasters.”


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim reiterated her support for the Lismore community and extends sincere gratitude to the pharmacists who continued providing services to their communities during the disaster.


PSA was proud to provide affected pharmacists with copies of the Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary and Handbook (APF) to support their roles in the weeks following.


“We were proud to be able to personally offer our support to every pharmacist in the region. Times like this reminds us all once again the indispensable role pharmacists play in the community as primary healthcare providers to ensure the local community has continued access to medicines and health care.


“We cannot wait for natural disasters to happen before we put measures in place to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities. Making continued dispensing arrangements permanent for all medicines, for example, would allow pharmacists to take a proactive role in the post-disaster health of their communities.”





Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0410 505 315     E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is the only national peak body that represents all of Australia’s pharmacists across all practice settings. We want every Australian to have access to the best healthcare, and this must include optimising access to pharmacists’ knowledge and medicines expertise at the forefront of our healthcare system.