Being a member of the Board is a way of genuinely improving patient safety. The work of the Board and its members is based on the Regulatory principles for the National Scheme. A number of outgoing Board members told us a little about the work they did and how the Board helps to support the regulatory principles and in turn protect the public.
Community confidence in pharmacist regulation is important. How do you support this through your work as a Pharmacy Board member?
Patients, families and other members of the community use pharmacy services on a regular basis. Pharmacists working in the community are a visible link to a person’s health and a reminder that they have a local pharmacist to seek advice and help from when they need it. The regulation of pharmacists makes sure the person who gives them that help is adequately trained and educated and is meeting their legal and professional obligations. When this is not the case community confidence can be broken.
During my time with the Board I have been a member of the Notifications Committee and for nine years have contributed to its decision-making. The committee considers concerns about pharmacists that are raised by members of the community including patients, customers, pharmacists and other health professionals. The committee meets monthly, and attending these meetings and thoroughly reading through committee papers about complaints or concerns that were raised about pharmacists is essential to make our regulatory role work. The decisions made by the committee are important ones and have supported improvements in the practice of individual pharmacists and managed risks to the public. We have developed a nationally consistent approach to how we work so that no matter where a pharmacist works in Australia we hold them to the same standards.
As a community member I was able to provide the community perspective to our discussions. Improving the experience of someone who makes a complaint is important and I have supported AHPRA’s work in this area. I believe that anyone who makes a complaint needs to know that they have been listened to and their concerns have been addressed.
It is important that pharmacists understand this aspect of the Board’s work. As a Board member, I was able to prepare de-identified case studies for our newsletter which were aimed at educating pharmacists about common errors and to set out steps that should be taken to eliminate these errors.
As a regulator and a Board member you use the minimum regulatory force appropriate to manage the risk to the public. What does protecting the public mean to you?
The Board not only registers pharmacists who have the required education and training, but also responds to concerns about the conduct and behaviour of pharmacists with the primary intention of protecting the public.
The National Law requires the Board to respond to complaints about pharmacists’ practice and consider whether in each case, the practice of the pharmacist was below the standard expected by pharmacists and the public. It involves understanding the concerns of the complainant and giving consideration to the response of the pharmacist(s) and seeking any additional information that is available and relevant before reaching a decision. Before reaching its decision the Board must also consider whether a risk to the wider public exists if that behaviour were to continue. Any remedial action proposed to be taken needs to be in the public interest while at the same time not being overly draconian in its effect on the practitioner involved.
The Board’s action to protect the public is about being responsive, objective and fair.
As a Pharmacy Board member you can influence registration standards, codes and guidelines. Why is this important to you?
Registration standards, codes and guidelines are the tools Board members help develop to support pharmacists to understand and meet their obligations under the National Law. I see this as important, as by developing standards, codes and guidelines we drive public safety forward and help pharmacists play a key role in public protection.
Becoming a Board member has expanded my horizons into policy developments that shape the pharmacy profession. More importantly I have become part of a community of professionals who are interested in how pharmacists can and should uphold these standards to maintain public confidence in the profession and achieve outcomes to protect the public.
In my role as Board member, stakeholder engagement and partnerships have been integral to making sure the standards, codes and guidelines are embedded in the profession. Developing a broad range of external relationships with professional associations and others helps us to succeed.
Working as part of the Board, I feel it is a real team effort to improve community understanding and patient safety and it is immensely satisfying to belong to that team.
I would recommend people consider applying to be a Board member as the diversity of experience, age, gender and cultural background is essential to enhancing the role the Board plays in regulating the profession and protecting the public. I have been able to develop my understanding of the complexity, importance and demands of health practitioner regulation and serve the public at the same time.
To learn more about upcoming Board vacancies and how to apply read more information on the Board’s website or go to the Statutory appointments page on the AHPRA website.