PSA holds concerns about QLD Government decision to promote COVID-19 testing in pharmacies

Thursday 13 August 2020


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is concerned for the safety and wellbeing of pharmacists, pharmacy staff and the general public following the announcement by the Queensland Government yesterday that COVID-19 testing in community pharmacies will be promoted across the state.


PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman raised concerns about the decision and said the announcement sent the wrong message to people who should be at home self-isolating when displaying symptoms of COVID-19.


“We have continually asked members of the community not to enter a pharmacy if they are unwell and displaying COVID-19 symptoms,” he said.


“The concern is that this decision will put not only pharmacists at risk but those with chronic health conditions who regularly visit a pharmacy and are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.


“The Queensland Government did not consult broadly with pharmacists and pharmacy groups and we do not want people who potentially have COVID-19 wandering into a pharmacy to get tested.


“People who have respiratory symptoms should be tested at a predesignated testing sites, and then stay home, not go to a pharmacy, which includes those with cold and flu symptoms who can access medicines through contactless options such as delivery, car-window parcel drop, third-party pick-up or family and friends.”


The pilot is designed to pick up those people who have already come into a pharmacy and a pharmacist identifies as someone who should be tested and will initially only be available at a small number of pharmacies around Queensland.


As part of the pilot program pharmacists will be provided with relevant training to conduct the testing.


A/Prof Freeman said while pharmacists have the skills to triage and screen potential COVID-19 symptoms and pathology collection is within pharmacist scope of practice, the reason health experts have recommended dedicated testing facilities is to limit unintended exposure to COVID-19 to other member of the general public.


“There are a raft of problems to work through before this service could be safely offered safely to patients”.


“It is essential that there is effective infection control and PPE available for health care workers running this service and guidance similar that that which exists for GP Respiratory Clinics conducting COVID-19 testing that would need to be adopted.


“Pharmacists and pharmacy staff must be protected from COVID-19 exposure or it places their community’s ongoing access to medicines and expert pharmacist care at risk.”


Media contact: PSA Media 0487 922 176