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Pharmacist believes decision will benefit patients and GPs

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Narrandera Capital Chemist pharmacist in charge Melissa Close has welcomed the NSW Government’s plans to offer people easier access to more medications and vaccinations at their local pharmacies.

Designed to ease the pressure on emergency departments and to help patients who find it difficult to get an appointment with a GP, the reforms would expand the number of vaccinations pharmacists could administer, as well as prescribing medication for a range of other conditions.

The NSW Government is supporting a statewide pilot in which appropriately-trained pharmacists could prescribe medications for urinary tract infections, skin ailments, ear infections and hormonal contraception.

Also, the government has authorised pharmacists to administer more public health and travel vaccinations, including Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, Poliomyelitis, Typhoid and Zoster.

“In regards to vaccinations, that’s a welcome addition to our pharmacy,” Melissa said.

“We’ve already demonstrated we can do it with 1000s of vaccinations during COVID and since then; we did over 2000 vaccinations in our pharmacy and that has taught us a bit about extended services.

“The extended vaccinations have been running in other states for some time so I don’t see it being a problem.

“When the new vaccinations are introduced into the schedule, the pharmacist would have to do further study to make sure we’re ready and providing them in the right way, so I think that in regards to what they’re hoping to introduce, is that it would only be pharmacists who are trained to do so.

“Sometimes we’re the only place open and I think our intentions, especially in a small, rural community, is that anything we do, we take seriously to do it properly.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said trials were in line with reforms being implemented in Queensland and would be open to NSW pharmacists who undertake appropriate, additional training.

Melissa believes that allowing pharmacists to prescribe medication for conditions such as urinary tract infections, skin ailments, ear infections and hormonal contraceptives will ease the burden on local GPs and reduce wait times for patients who need more specialised care.

“It’s fairly simple and straightforward conditions,” she said.

“It would make more appointments available at the doctor for people who need extensive care.

“I think we will certainly be under more pressure with extending the number of services, but you just have to design your business to ensure it is done properly.

“I think it will be beneficial; we have a good relationship with the doctors and respect what they do and we’ll ensure we don’t overstep the boundaries.”

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke described the pharmacist reforms as “ground-breaking”.

Ms Cooke said COVID-19 had demonstrated the vital role local pharmacists had played in keeping the community safe and well.

“They (reforms) aim to relieve pressure on emergency departments and wait times to see a GP by giving our community more access to primary care services,” she said.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic many of us opted to visit our local and trusted pharmacist to receive a vaccine.”

Narrandera Argus 8 December 2022

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 8 December 2022.

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