To further support the health system, the Pharmacy Board of Australia invited pharmacists who were on the pandemic sub-register and practising, to transition to the main Register of practitioners and maintain their registration beyond the closure of the sub-register. Those pharmacists who transitioned to the main register will then be eligible to apply for renewal of general registration to keep practising.
A consultation paper on the review of the Guidelines on compounding of medicines was published on the Board’s website following extensive stakeholder engagement. The guidelines apply to pharmacists compounding medicines to meet the unique needs of a patient. The review will identify opportunities to clarify the guidance for pharmacists and ensure safety of compounding.
To prepare for a review of its registration standard on the supervised practice requirements for intern pharmacists holding provisional registration, the Board surveyed interns and supervising preceptors about their experiences. Their feedback will be used to develop a stakeholder forum on supervised practice to capture further insights about the internship year. Revised proposals for supervised practice of interns will be tested with stakeholders during future public consultation.
The Board continued to collaborate with other National Boards in reviewing registration standards common to all health professions. This included the registration standard on English language skills and publication of Easy English information about the shared Code of conduct.
To complement its past work exploring opportunities for pharmacist prescribing, the Board agreed to fund the development of accreditation standards for education programs for pharmacist prescribing. Program providers would need to ensure that pharmacists completing their programs meet the prescribing competencies set out in the National Prescribing Service (NPS) Prescribing Competencies Framework.
Completion of accredited education programs would qualify and equip pharmacists to prescribe in accordance with any authorisations set out in state and territory medicines and poisons legislation that required pharmacists to qualify for an endorsement for scheduled medicines. The draft accreditation standards developed by the Australian Pharmacy Council were open to initial public consultation and will undergo further development and further public consultation.
The Board reviewed and consulted on the assignment of the accreditation function for the pharmacy profession. Accreditation involves two processes: program accreditation and practitioner assessment. The current assignment, to the APC, will end in June 2024.
The Board reviewed performance and progress of current accreditation priorities and confirmed the priorities and measurement of progress for the next period. It considered the consultation feedback and the APC’s expression of interest to continue to deliver accreditation functions, and confirmed its ongoing assignment to the APC.
The Board continued to provide annual funding to the Pharmacists’ Support Service. This long-established service is staffed by volunteer pharmacists who provide crisis telephone counselling, and offers valuable health support services to pharmacists and students across Australia.
The Board continued its face-to-face engagement with pharmacists and stakeholders by holding stakeholder meetings in Adelaide and Melbourne. This enabled it to hear first-hand about local issues affecting pharmacists and their practice, and to discuss the Board’s role in protecting the public.
Mr Brett Simmonds, Chair