Pharmacy Board of Australia - 2020/21 annual summary
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2020/21 annual summary


  • 35,262 pharmacists
    • Up 2.2% from 2019/20
    • 4.3% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.3% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 63.0% female; 37.0% male


Age: <25 = 5.2%, 25 to 34 = 36.6%, 35 to 44 = 28.8%, 45 to 54 = 13.6%, 55 to 64 = 9.5%, 65 to 74 = 4.6%, >75 = 1.7%



  • 405 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 634 registered pharmacists Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 1.8% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Patient, relative or member of the public 54.3%, Other practitioner 14.1%, HCE 12.1%, Employer 4.4%, Board’s own motion 2.5%, Other 12.6%

  • 27 immediate actions taken

  • 42 mandatory notifications received
    • 31 about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Medication 58.0%, Communication 7.4%, Offence against other law 6.4%, Behaviour 5.2%, Health impairment 3.7%, Clinical care 3.7%, Other 15.6%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 476 notifications closed 6.5% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 12.8% received a caution or reprimand, 0.8% registration suspended or cancelled, 0.2% fined, 9.2% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 70.4% no further action


  • 253 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 145 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 17 for conduct
    • 17 for health reasons
    • 23 for performance
    • 29 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 59 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 16 criminal offence complaints made
    • 11 about title protection
    • 2 about practice protection
    • 3 about advertising breaches
  • 16 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

  • 11 matters decided by a tribunal
  • 1 matter decided by a panel
  • 9 appeals

A report from the Chair

Regulatory response to COVID-19

In response to a request by the Australian Government, the Board enabled the continuing registration of pharmacists on the pandemic sub-register to provide additional support for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out. To help states and territories in their preparation for delivering the COVID-19 vaccination strategy, the Board also conducted a survey of pharmacists who have completed immunisation training.

The Board confirmed ongoing measures to support pharmacists to meet their regulatory obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • the reduction in the total number of supervised practice hours required for general registration and advice on modifications to the arrangements for supervision of interns
  • the delivery of oral and written examinations using an online platform where required, given the need for social distancing.

Issues this year

Analysis of notifications involving oral methotrexate

The Pharmacy Board of Australia published an analysis of notifications involving oral methotrexate. In sharing these findings, the Board reminded pharmacists about the need for extra vigilance when supplying methotrexate given the types of errors in practice that have resulted in poor and, in some cases, catastrophic outcomes for the public.

The Board started stakeholder engagement to explore opportunities for collaborative work to support greater awareness of the risks that must be mitigated in practice when supplying methotrexate. The Board will continue its engagement on this issue during the next 12 months and share the outcomes with the profession, stakeholders and the public. The outcomes of the analysis will also inform the Board’s upcoming review of its guidelines for pharmacists.

Intern assessment

The Board continued to modify the intern-assessment process, informed by the work of the Intern Year Blueprint Implementation Working Group, a collaboration between the Board and the Australian Pharmacy Council. Modifications were made to remove unnecessary duplication from the oral and written examinations, and examinations are being held according to a revised schedule. The working group has oversight of the delivery of a project to develop and trial workplace-based assessment tools for interns. The Board also conducted a survey of examiners as part of its intern-assessment quality improvement work program.

Contribution to the Pharmacists’ Support Service

The Board confirmed funding ($30,000 annually for three years) to the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS), a long-established service staffed by volunteer pharmacists who provide crisis telephone counselling and that offers valuable health support services to pharmacists and students across Australia. The funding will support PSS to raise awareness with pharmacists, interns, students and employers of pharmacists about the health issues that impact the profession and to develop information, educational materials and a database of health services available to pharmacists with, or at risk of, impairment. The decision of the Board to provide funding accords with provisions in the National Law to provide financial support to a health program for the profession.

Mr Brett Simmonds, Chair

Page reviewed 22/11/2022