Victorian antigen tests welcomed by PSA – more needed
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the Victorian Government’s move to secure additional rapid antigen tests (RAT) for hospitals. However, government-funded routine RAT for community pharmacies is essential to ensure continuity of essential health services.
Yesterday, the Victorian Government announced they will secure 2.2 million rapid antigen tests for the Victorian health system, most of which are likely to be utilised through the hospital sector.
PSA Victorian Branch President, John Jackson, commended the move and called for government-funded rapid antigen testing for community pharmacists and their staff to be prioritised.
“We welcome the Victorian Government’s commitment to the funding of rapid antigen testing for hospitals. The provision of RAT will help protect Victoria’s hospitals workers, including pharmacists.
“Whilst this is welcomed news for the hospital sector and the pharmacists who work in hospitals, there is urgent need for antigen testing in our local pharmacies. On what seems to be a daily basis, pharmacies are being listed as exposure sites across locked down states. As a result, these pharmacies are required to close, and staff forced to isolate – we cannot afford further closures and must protect the health and wellbeing of Australia’s most accessible health care workforce, pharmacists,” Mr Jackson said.
PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, said: “Rapid antigen testing would allow community pharmacies to bring their workforce back sooner. Returned in less than 15 minutes, negative rapid antigen tests will provide health authorities and community pharmacies with the confidence to reopen sooner, ensuring their communities continue to have access to essential medicines and health services such as vaccinations.
“At a quarter of the cost of a PCR test, rapid antigen testing must form a major part of the country’s COVID-19 response – allowing asymptomatic staff to be tested quickly, ensuring a safer workplace and maintaining community access to medicines and services.
“Now that Australians are seeing light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, how we manage this disease and future outbreaks will be the real challenge. Rapid antigen testing must be a cornerstone of life beyond COVID-19 – it will play a crucial role in limiting targeted lockdowns and protecting society’s most vulnerable,” A/Prof Freeman said.
Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463