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Thursday, August 11, 2022

NSW budget commits to improving care but has also missed an opportunity: PSA

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The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has welcomed the NSW Government’s budget initiatives that will improve medicine safety and outcomes for patients across NSW.

Yesterday’s 2021-22 NSW Budget commits $37.3 million to the implementation of Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM), and $82.8 million over four years to bolster palliative care services across the state.

PSA said it has long advocated for a nationally consistent RTPM system across the country in order to reduce inappropriate medicine use and the harm it may cause.

PSA NSW President, Chelsea Felkai, welcomed this commitment.

“RTPM will enable pharmacists to work with doctors to facilitate a patient-centred approach and will address the increase in harm resulting from inappropriate use of certain prescription medicines,” she said.

“We know that deaths from prescription medicines have outpaced deaths from illicit drugs in Australia, and RTPM has the potential to provide better oversight to patients prescribed with high-risk medications – reducing risk of death, overdose and dependence.”

PSA said it will work closely with the NSW Government to support the effective implementation of the NSW SafeScript RTPM system.

The peak national body for pharmacists said is also pleased to see the commitment to strengthening palliative care services.

Embedding pharmacists in palliative care teams, it said, will enable timely access to core medicines, and will support end-of-life care for patients who choose to spend their last days of life in the community.

Despite these positive outcomes, Felkai said the budget should have included a means to better use state pharmacists.

“… it has missed the opportunity to utilise the skills, expertise and accessibility of pharmacists to both support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, and to help take pressure off our hospitals,” she said.

“This budget has significant investments in hospital upgrades, but misses the opportunity to reduce the financial impact and burden of non-urgent presentations on hospital emergency departments, which could be better managed in primary care settings.

“We know that 70 per cent of non-urgent presentations to emergency departments occur between the hours of 9am and 7pm, during the typical business hours of a community pharmacy – and where required, can be referred to general practitioners.”

Felkai also urged the Berejiklian Government to activate community pharmacists as soon as possible across the state to help accelerate NSW’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“We know that primary care providers are administering COVID-19 vaccinations at twice the rate of vaccination hubs, so we need to draw on the existing infrastructure and pharmacist vaccinator workforce to join our GP colleagues in getting the vaccine rolled out more efficiently.”

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