Pharmacy Board of Australia - 201920 annual summary
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201920 annual summary

Snapshot of the profession

  • 34,512 pharmacists
    • Up 8.0% from 2018/19
    • 4.3% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.3% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 62.7% female; 37.3% male


Age: 4.2% < 25, 37.3% 25-34, 28.4% 35-44, 13.6% 45-54, 9.8% 55-64, 4.9% 65-74, 1.8% > 75

Audit outcomes

Audit: 83.3% fully compliant, 2.4% compliant (through education), 2.4% non-compliant, 11.9% no audit action required

Regulating the profession


  • 448 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 649 registered pharmacists Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them 
    • 1.9% of the profession 

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: 58.5% patient, relative or member of the public, 13.4% other practitioner, 7.1% HCE, 6.7% Board’s own motion, 2.9% employer, 11.4% other

  • 48 immediate actions taken
  • 46 mandatory notifications received 
    • 36 about professional standards

Most common types of complaint

Most common types of complaint: 62.1% medication, 8.3% communication, 5.4% clinical care, 4.0% health impairment, 4.0% behaviour, 16.3% other

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 336 notifications closed (10.4% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 13.7% received a caution or reprimand, 1.2% registration suspended or cancelled, 0.3% registration surrendered, 9.2% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 65.2% no further action)


  • 142 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year 
  • 125 cases being monitored at 30 June: 
    • 18 for conduct
    • 18 for health reasons
    • 24 for performance
    • 23 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 42 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 13 criminal offence complaints made 
    • 10 about title protection 
    • 3 about advertising breaches
  • 8 were closed  

Referrals to an adjudication body

  • 8 matters decided by a tribunal
  • No matters decided by a panel
  • 6 appeals

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

Position statement on pharmacist prescribing

This year, the Pharmacy Board of Australia released its position statement on pharmacist prescribing. This followed an extensive work program during the last two years to explore the competence of pharmacists in Australia to prescribe under the models of non-medical prescribing defined by the Health Professionals Prescribing Pathway (HPPP). Our work included competency mapping and broad stakeholder engagement by hosting a forum and releasing a discussion paper on pharmacist prescribing. 

The Board concluded that under the National Law it has no regulatory barriers in place for pharmacists to be able to prescribe in two of those models of care within a collaborative healthcare environment, via a structured prescribing arrangement or under supervision. The Board also confirmed its view that autonomous prescribing by pharmacists requires additional regulation through an endorsement for scheduled medicines.

The work to explore pharmacist prescribing did not result in any regulatory proposals. However, it will assist stakeholders, including government and the public, to further explore how qualified and competent pharmacists might further contribute to the delivery of health services to the public. 

The statement includes several important considerations that would inform the development of any pharmacist prescribing models in the future. The Board continues to engage with stakeholders about the outcomes in the position statement.

Pharmacy intern experience survey report

The Board published the final report of the Pharmacy internship experience survey, a large-scale survey of recent pharmacy interns and preceptors across Australia. 

The survey was an opportunity for interns and preceptors to provide feedback on their own experiences. This enabled the Board to explore their views on the quality of and degree of consistency in the internship experience, and to identify opportunities to improve the experience as well as the supervised practice process for future interns and preceptors. 

The results included positive feedback about internship experiences, as well as areas for improvement. We will address these issues through development of new content for our Intern pharmacist and preceptor guide, and through ongoing engagement with stakeholders to identify how best to provide additional support to interns and preceptors to facilitate good learning outcomes across all internships. 

The report will also inform the Board’s review of its Registration standard: supervised practice arrangements, starting next year.

Internship assessment

The Board continued its collaboration with the Australian Pharmacy Council, through the Intern Year Blueprint Implementation Working Group, to develop a strategy to revise the intern assessment process. This contributes to the Board’s long-standing intern-assessment quality improvement work program. This work will continue next year.

Regulatory response to COVID-19 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board provided guidance to pharmacists about meeting the Board’s regulatory requirements during this challenging and demanding period. Given the impact of the pandemic on pharmacists providing increased services to the public, the Board announced the following responses:

  • general registration was granted to over 1,900 pharmacists who had held general registration and left the Register of practitioners or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years, enabling them to return to practice
  • the Board would not take action if the pandemic affected pharmacists’ ability to complete the minimum annual CPD requirement for renewal of registration
  • a reduction in the total number of intern supervised practice hours required for general registration and advice on modifications to the arrangements for supervision of interns
  • a revised schedule of intern registration examinations, including the delivery of oral examinations using an online platform given the need for social distancing.

The Board worked collaboratively with Ahpra, the Australian Pharmacy Council, interns, preceptors and examiners to enact these measures.


The Board approved the Accreditation standards for pharmacy programs in Australia and New Zealand, 2020 developed by the Australian Pharmacy Council. The Board provided funding for this work. 

The revised accreditation standards will continue to support the provision of degree programs and intern training programs but will also enable education providers to develop and deliver programs which integrate degree and intern training programs.

Mr Brett Simmonds, Chair

Page reviewed 22/11/2021