PSA COVID-19 Senate submission highlights issues in Australia’s response

Friday 17 July 2020


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Governments response to COVID-19 highlights the serious challenges faced by pharmacists as they were neglected by legislators and left out of key policy responses during the pandemic.


Pharmacist across the country rose to the challenge of COVID-19, keeping their doors open to ensure the community had physical access to critical health services and essential medicines.


PSA’s submission details the issues experienced by pharmacists, including barriers which restricted pharmacists from providing patients the best possible care during the pandemic. with the submission also tables recommendations to ensure limitations can be proactively adapted into future benefits to all Australians.


The key issues highlighted in the submission centres around medicines shortages, digital image prescribing, regulatory confusion between the Commonwealth and State jurisdictions and the challenges with medicine shortages.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said the findings in the submission also examined the extraordinary strength and purpose pharmacists demonstrated in supporting Australians under unparalleled pressure and community panic.


“Pharmacists and their staff feel forgotten by State and Federal Governments during this pandemic,” he said.


“Community pharmacists remained open throughout the entire pandemic to deliver health care and meet the needs of patients, carers and the public.


“It is disappointing that pharmacists were not always fully consulted when policy and implementation decisions were being made, including those affecting the pharmacy profession.


“There were even cases when the law had to be circumvented in order to provide the care expected by patients due to disparities between State and Federal legislation.


“It is necessary to raise concerns and provide recommendations to ensure the Government is prepared for a potential second wave of COVID-19 as well as future public health emergencies.”


In the submission, PSA provided 15 recommendations including ensuring adequate supply of personal protection, invoking systematic medicine supply restrictions in a timely manner and providing clear public heath messaging.


A/Prof Freeman said that while PSA acknowledges the Australian Government’s rapid and decisive response that helped Australia contain the pandemic, this does not mean that there were not lessons to be learnt for the future.


“I have no doubt that legislative changes and decisions made by the Government contributed to lower infection rates in the global context however there were challenges in some policies and decisions made that had a negative impact on pharmacists.


“In putting forward this submission I hope the good work of pharmacists under extreme pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic is recognised and our recommendations lead to positive change going forward that will help pharmacists support patients and all Australians.”


To view the PSA submission please visit: https://www.psa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/200717_Submission_to_Senate_inquiry_into_COVID-19.pdf


Media contact: PSA media 0487 922 176