Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist March 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist March 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The announcement of a pharmacist-delivered immunisation pilot in
Queensland has many politicians and bureaucrats in Canberra sitting up
and taking notice.
Not surprisingly, the reaction in
Canberra has been positive, with the
trial seen as a good way to increase the
rate of immunisation and capture many
of those people who are not taking up
free immunisation under the National
The Queensland pilot, led by PSA and the
Guild, complements the stated aims of
the NIS: ‘ The emphasis of the strategy is
to improve immunisation coverage rates,
address vaccine safety concerns, ensure
secure vaccine supply for Australia into
the future, and use data from various
sources to better monitor and evaluate
the National Immunisation Program.’
This is a great initiative by the profession
in that state and one which I am
confident will lead eventually to the
introduction of immunisation services
in pharmacies across the country.
Of course there have been some
concerns about how these services will
be delivered but the Queensland trial
has been thoroughly researched and
developed and all concerns raised to
date have been addressed.
My sources in the Department of Health
and on the Hill indicate that there is
a growing frustration that every time
a viable health plan is presented,
elements within the health sector
feel it is necessary to try to shoot it
down before it is tested and evaluated.
For instance, the Queensland trial
is an academically‐designed pilot,
conducted in association with the
Queensland Department of Health and
Queensland University of Technology
and James Cook University, to ensure
the scientific robustness of the trial and
the subsequent analysis of results.
This, however, has not stopped some
pretty wild comments being thrown
around about pharmacists not being
trained, not being the appropriate people
to deliver vaccinations and so on. There
have even been criticisms of pharmacies
not being appropriate venues to deliver
vaccinations, a comment that quite
conveniently ignores the fact that
vaccinations are delivered at country
shows, from vans, through schools and at
many other non‐medical venues.
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton
is known to be a strong supporter of
solution‐driven advocacy and has in the
past been critical of those who simply
find problems with proposals, rather
than solutions. Along with many others
in Canberra he will be looking at the trial
as a very real solution on a number of
fronts: increasing immunisations rates,
recuing incidence of disease, freeing
up GPs to perform other tasks and so
on, and making our health dollar work
smarter and go further.
All of these fit into the Government’s
imperative to build a sustainable health
system today to be used tomorrow.
The adage that we can’t keep doing
today what we did yesterday, and expect
to be here tomorrow is applicable to
the health system. The need to present
solutions was reinforced late last month
when the Productivity Commission added
the sobering news about our health system
which further intensified the scrutiny it is
coming under from the Government.
Productivity Commission figures show
that between 2002–03 and 2011–12,
Federal Government spending on
health grew at an average of 4.9% a
year. Health spending per head by all
governments rose 37% over the period
in real terms, from $4,474 to $6,230.
Adjusting for inflation, non‐government
health spending per person rose from
$1,259 to $1,802 over the same period.
Commenting on these figures, Mr Dutton
said they demonstrated the challenge
the Government faced in placing the
health system on a stable financial
footing, adding the ominous note that
they also underpinned the need for the
Government to cut ‘waste’ in health.
This is why the immunisation pilot is so
important. It has the long‐term potential
to see a national program of pharmacist‐
delivered immunisations which would
help reduce costs across the health sector.
I am delighted at PSA’s leadership role in
this pilot and the potential that this may
help realise one of our goals of greater
recognition of our skills and how those
skills can be used to improve the health
outcomes of the community. (See page
28 for more on the immunisation trial.)
» CANBERRA COMMENTARY
BY LIESEL WETT, PSA CEO
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