Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist March 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist March 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT SAYS
During the year, PSA will launch a
pilot of its Ethics Advisory Service,
a timely development given the
growing focus on the need for
transparent ethical behaviour to
be practised by all sectors of the
For some time I have been speaking
and writing about the fact that ethical
behaviour must be a foundation of the
pharmacy profession even as we move
into an era when commercial objectives
can take precedence over other
The concerns I have expressed have
been echoed in other quarters, with the
latest group to address the issue being
the Australian Pharmacy Liaison Forum
(APLF), which comprises all the peak
bodies representing pharmacy.
The APLF has launched what I hope
will be a 12-month campaign by all
pharmacy organisations to reinforce to all
pharmacists that adhering to the strictest
professional and ethical behaviour in
all aspects of their practice is of vital
The APLF has said that to achieve the
best health outcomes for all communities
in Australia, we as a profession and
as professional individuals have a
responsibility to serve and treat the public
in an ethical manner.
A statement released by the forum said
that, 'every registered pharmacist has a
duty to abide by the Codes of Ethics that
have been set by the profession and the
Pharmacy Board of Australia's Code of
Conduct for Registered Health Practitioners.
'Pharmacists must always act in the best
interests of the health and wellbeing
of the consumer as their first priority,
which includes ensuring business
practices are conducted so as not to
adversely affect the consumer.
'Pharmacists must also commit
to professional development and
enhancement of the profession
including the training and mentoring
of their staff. To achieve best health
outcomes, pharmacists must also work
in partnership with consumers and other
As members of PSA, you will be aware
that the Society is committed to ethical
behaviour and this commitment is backed
by the work we have undertaken, and are
continuing to undertake, in this area.
PSA released a new Code of Ethics for
Pharmacists in 2012 following extensive
consultation with members, pharmacists
and other health stakeholders and this
Code is a very important body of work
for the profession in that it articulates
the values of the pharmacy profession
and expected standards of behaviour of
pharmacists to consumers and society.
The Code is made up of a number of
principles covering five areas of focus
which are core to pharmacists and
pharmacy practice. These areas are the
consumer, the community, the pharmacy
profession, business practices and other
We must also remember that these
principles apply to every pharmacist
irrespective of role, scope, level or
location of practice. The application of
ethics is not discretionary -- ethics apply
to every aspect of pharmacy practice.
The next development in PSA's work on
ethics will be the introduction of a pilot
PSA Ethics Advisory Service. The Service
aims to ensure the Code is adhered to
and will provide a vehicle for reporting
and acting on any non-compliance with
the Code (but not on matters requiring
mandatory reporting to the Pharmacy
Board of Australia).
As part of the pilot service, it is planned
that a committee of experts will offer
advice on 'ethical dilemmas' or potential
breaches of the Code of Ethics.
It is important to note that PSA's
Ethics Advisory Service will operate in
conjunction with services offered by other
pharmacy organisations including the
Pharmacists' Support Service (PSS) and
Pharmaceutical Defence Ltd (PDL).
I would also like to point out that
our colleagues in New Zealand have
produced a useful publication, Workplace
Pressures in Pharmacy: practical advice
for pharmacists, pharmacy staff and
employers which is available at: www.
This booklet points to an ethical area
often overlooked -- the effects of stress
in the workplace and the consequent
possible ramifications for patient
The booklet states: 'A 2010 study
of practising pharmacists in the
United States found that more that 68%
experienced job stress and role overload.
Respondents cited role ambiguity as a
serious concern -- they felt they were
often unable to provide ideal professional
services because mundane tasks took
priority.' One of the functions perceived
as not getting sufficient attention was
patient counselling, because of the lack of
confidence, time or the necessary skills.
It points that under the NZ Pharmacy
Council Code of Ethics there is an obligation
on pharmacists to do something about
stress factors with the code stipulating the
need to 'raise concerns and take appropriate
steps if policies, systems, working
conditions or the actions of others may
compromise patient care or public safety'.
At all times we have a responsibility
to be vigilant in our adherence to the
highest ethical standards and practices.
The profession, and the health-consuming
public, should expect no less. (For more on
ethics see page 72.)
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