Pharmacy Board of Australia - July 2023
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July 2023

Issue 37 - July 2023

Chair’s message

Compounding medicines may be appropriate and necessary when other pathways of accessing medicines are not suitable for the patient. Public consultation has opened on the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s draft revised Guidelines on compounding of medicines, and I encourage you to have your say. The Board is also reviewing its other registration standards and guidelines, read more below.

Read our newsletter for updates about the development of accreditation standards for pharmacist prescriber education programs, the latest workforce data and tribunal cases, as well as practice advice on employing a new or locum pharmacist.

Brett Simmonds

Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia

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Priority news

Have your say on revised Guidelines on compounding of medicines

Public consultation has opened on the Board’s draft revised Guidelines on compounding of medicines. The Board is reviewing the guidelines, which it first published in 2015, to ensure they are relevant, contemporary and effective.

The consultation pack includes a fact sheet for members of the public to explain what compounded medicines are and why they may be needed.

Read the consultation papers and current guidelines on the Current consultations page.

How you can have your say

Consultation is open until close of business Monday 24 July 2023. You can provide feedback by either:

  • submitting your answers to the questions via an online survey, or
  • using the response template and sending it as a Word document (not PDF) by email to [email protected]

The existing guidelines will remain in force until the completion and publication of revised guidelines.

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Board news

Review of registration standards and guidelines

Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law), the Board must develop registration standards to be approved by Ministerial Council and may also develop and approve codes and guidelines. When the Board develops a registration standard or a code or guideline it must ensure there is wide-ranging consultation about its content.

We started reviewing many of our registration standards and guidelines last year and this work will continue into 2024. The consultation process involves many steps which are outlined on the Procedures page of the Ahpra website.

We have started preliminary engagement with targeted stakeholders on the supervised practice and examinations registration standards. As part of this review the Board will hold a forum in August to explore options for supervised practice. We hope to have representatives from pharmacy member organisations, consumer organisations, government, other relevant regulators, providers of pharmacy programs of study, intern training program providers and others.

When we reach the public consultation phase we will publish the papers on our Current consultations webpage and notify all stakeholders. The existing documents will remain in force until the completion and publication of revised registration standards and guidelines.

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Accreditation standards for pharmacist prescriber education programs

On 6 October 2022, the Board announced its decision to develop accreditation standards for pharmacist prescribing education programs. These programs would qualify and equip pharmacists to prescribe in accordance with any emerging authorisations set out in state and territory medicines and poisons legislation.

The Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) is developing the standards on behalf of the Board and has started the consultation process. The first round has closed and we anticipate the second round of consultation will begin later this year. You can read more about the development of the standards and the consultation process on APC’s website.

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Ahpra and National Boards release social research results

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the Pharmacy Board have released results from surveys of practitioners’ sentiment and perceptions about our role and work.

The results will inform work to improve our engagement with regulated health professions, with the aim of improving trust and confidence in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

The main report provides the results from an anonymous survey conducted in late 2021 of a random sample of registered health practitioners. There were 14,670 responses from practitioners across all 16 regulated health professions.

As the survey was voluntary, the sample of responses from some professions may not be representative of the whole population of the profession. In addition, the survey responses also reveal that the different roles of National Boards, Ahpra and professional associations are not well understood, so caution is needed when considering these results.

The Pharmacy Board has published a profession-specific report based on the results of the online survey. Read more in the news item, including our report and the main report.

Easy English information about the shared Code of conduct is now available

New Easy English information about the shared Code of conduct is now available. The easier to understand information will help people who find it hard to read and understand English know what standards of conduct they can expect from a registered health practitioner.

The shared Code of conduct (the code) applies to all pharmacists. It was updated last year to improve patient safety.

The code is also an important document for the public. The code outlines what the public can expect when they see a practitioner, including information about respect, culturally safe care, privacy and confidentiality, and communication.

As well as the new Easy English information, there are other resources for the public. There are also resources available to help practitioners understand and apply the code. These resources include FAQs and case studies.

For more information, read the news item.

Practice advice

Are you a proprietor employing a new or locum pharmacist?

As a proprietor you have professional obligations when employing a new or locum pharmacist. These obligations include an adequate induction and handover process.

As outlined in the Board’s Guidelines for proprietor pharmacists, you are responsible for ensuring the pharmacy business is conducted properly. This includes:

  • Assuring yourself that the pharmacists you employ are complying with and adhering to the Board’s registration standards and guidelines, and where applicable, making any necessary arrangements that help pharmacists to meet these requirements. For example: ensuring that employee pharmacists have ready access to the list of essential references specified by the Board in Guideline 1 of its Guidelines on practice-specific issues.
  • Ensuring:
    • compliance with any state or territory legislation regarding facilities and equipment required for the types of services provided at the pharmacy
    • appropriate risk management procedures are in place for the operation of the pharmacy, including all types of services provided at that pharmacy
    • that the pharmacy is suitably resourced, and that staff members are suitably trained and appropriately supervised to provide services in accordance with their position descriptions, and
    • that business procedures, policies and protocols are developed, implemented and routinely followed for all services delivered at the pharmacy.

The proprietor/owner or partner-in-ownership pharmacist must ensure that procedures and policies for all services provided by the pharmacy, as well as those relating to occupational health and safety, are documented and available within the pharmacy for all staff to access and follow.

Induction, handover and support

Meeting these responsibilities should include an adequate induction and handover for the locum or new pharmacist as well as obtaining evidence of their current registration with the Board, even if they have been employed through an employment agency. You can do this by checking the Register of practitioners, which can also be accessed via the Board’s website homepage.

  • How you can support your new or locum pharmacist:
    • Ensure ready access to essential references and other resources they will need when practising (for example, log-in details for any electronic references).
    • Make appropriate arrangements for the transfer of pharmacy keys so that they are only in the possession of pharmacists.
    • Provide a thorough briefing on opening and closing procedures.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 31 March 2023. At this date there were 36,107 registered pharmacists, including 124 on the pandemic response sub-register. There are:

  • 32,265 with general registration
  • 2,354 with provisional registration
  • 18 with limited registration
  • 1,470 with non-practising registration.

For further data breakdowns by division, age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.

Additional English language tests for registration applicants

The Board has agreed to accept additional English language tests to provide further flexibility to people applying for registration. The tests are:

  • OET Computer Based Test
  • IELTS One Skill Retake.

Applicants for registration should visit the test provider’s website directly to find out more about these tests. Information about test providers is available on the Ahpra website.

All other requirements set out in the Board’s English language skills registration standard still apply.

Read more in the news item.

Regulation at work

Latest tribunal cases

We publish summaries of court and tribunal cases for their educational value to the profession.

Former pharmacist reprimanded and disqualified following conviction for trespass and theft

A South Australian former pharmacist has been reprimanded and disqualified for five years after being convicted of criminal trespass and theft of drugs of dependency and for failing to notify the Pharmacy Board of Australia of the charges. 

Read more in the news item.

Unregistered man who worked at a pharmacy for 17 months convicted of holding himself out as a registered pharmacist

A South Australian man has been convicted of holding himself out as a registered pharmacist over a period of 17 months, after he failed to renew his provisional registration and it lapsed.

Read more in the news item.

What’s new?

Public protection is the focus of new National Law reforms

Public protection is at the forefront in the latest round of reforms to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

The changes started on 15 May, in all states and territories except Western Australia (where the changes will start on a later date).

Better protecting the public from serious risk

One significant change gives Ahpra and the National Boards a new power to issue a public statement to warn the public about a serious risk from an individual – either a registered health practitioner or a person who does not hold registration but is providing a health service. Issuing a public statement means we can warn the public about a serious risk at an early stage, while we continue to investigate. There is a high threshold that must be met to use the power, which we anticipate will be used sparingly and only in exceptional cases to better protect the public.

Read more in the public statements warnings FAQs.

Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme

Other changes will help us improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme and help create a fairer system. These changes include:

  • an update to our complaints process which introduces the ability to compel practitioners to provide information at an earlier point in the assessment process. This will mean we can deal with complaints more efficiently and improve the experience for both the notifier and the practitioner
  • more suitable options for National Boards to respond to practitioners who continue to practise after their registration has lapsed, and
  • improved information-sharing abilities for National Boards with relevant parties such as registered practitioners’ former employers, when necessary to alert them to potential harm to the public.

More information

Some of the changes do not apply in NSW, because of differences in how concerns are managed in that state. For example, the power to issue a public statement and the power to require information at an earlier point in the assessment process are already held by the Health Care Complaints Commission. Read more about the NSW regulators.

The changes are the latest in a wide range of reforms outlined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022, which came into law last October.

For more information, read the news item and see the resources on the Ahpra National Law amendments webpage.

Public safer with Ahpra’s 100th criminal prosecution

From fake physiotherapists working in aged care homes, to unqualified dentists removing teeth, Ahpra has now completed 100 criminal prosecutions to protect the public.

Ahpra’s first criminal prosecution was finalised in January 2014 when a West Australian woman was sentenced to a $20,000 fine for claiming to be a registered psychologist. Since then, Ahpra has prosecuted matters throughout Australia with the most in Victoria and NSW.

‘Holding out’ cases, where someone is pretending to be registered when they are not, dominated the prosecution list.

The 100th case, involving a man holding out as a registered pharmacist, is reported above under tribunal cases in this newsletter.

For more information, read the news item.

Measures announced to safely welcome more international practitioners

Ahpra and the National Boards welcome moves to safely introduce more trained practitioners into the nation’s health system sooner, as recommended by an independent review into Australia’s health regulatory settings. The main changes will be:

  • Assessment red tape to be cut, allowing more international practitioners to enter and work in Australia safely and sooner.
  • Greater recognition of international qualifications from comparable health systems to fast-track some approvals.
  • Reviewing current standards, including English language and recency of practice requirements.

Interim findings of the Kruk review endorse measures put forward by Ahpra to cut the red tape and costs faced by qualified internationally trained practitioners wanting to work in Australia’s health system.

For more information, read the news item.

Check out the latest podcasts

The Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. Listen and subscribe by searching for 'Taking care' in your podcast player (such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify), or listen on Ahpra's website.

The latest topic is ‘The challenges for our overseas workforce: Why the system needs to keep adapting to better support a safe, diverse and appropriate health workforce'.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to visit the National Scheme's newsletter page. The next issue is coming soon, and you can subscribe on the webpage.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Pharmacy Board website for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs. Visiting the website regularly is the best way to stay in touch with news and updates from the Board.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9125 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • To update your contact details for important registration renewal emails and other Board updates, go to the Ahpra website: Update contact details.
  • Address mail correspondence to: Brett Simmonds, Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.
Page reviewed 26/09/2023