World Pharmacists Day was held on Monday 25 September, highlighting the vital role pharmacy plays in delivering effective, safe, quality health interventions and that pharmacy is integral to a well-functioning health system. I congratulate Australia’s pharmacists for their significant contributions to patient health outcomes through professional healthcare advice and the promotion of the responsible use of medicines.
It is also time for pharmacy graduates to apply for registration and our newsletter contains important information to guide our soon-to-be pharmacists through the process.
Read our newsletter for the latest developments in the Board’s review of the supervised practice registration standard and catch up on the latest workforce data and tribunal cases.
Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia
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When is criminal history incompatible with healthcare practice? What risks are acceptable – and manageable – when it comes to public safety?
From traffic offences at one end, to serious sexual assault at the other, there is a spectrum of seriousness when it comes to criminal offences.
The Pharmacy Board decides case by case whether to grant someone registration as a practitioner or allow them to return to practice, if they have a criminal history. This process is the same for every registered profession.
As the National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) review the Criminal history registration standard, we’re keen to know what the professions and the community expect.
We are reviewing the Criminal history registration standard to make sure it is up to date and relevant. This work is part of our blueprint for reform to strengthen public safety in health regulation, which has a focus on sexual misconduct in healthcare.
Tell us what you think about the current version of the criminal history standard and other work to improve public safety in health regulation.
Your feedback will shape our thinking. There’ll be another opportunity to comment when we consult on changes to the registration standard down the track.
More information about the review and how to make a submission is available on the Ahpra Consultations page. The consultation period has been extended until COB on Friday 29 September 2023.
On 11 August, the Board held a forum to explore options for supervised practice with stakeholders to inform our review of the supervised practice registration standard. More than 70 people attended the forum, including representatives from pharmacy member organisations, state and territory health departments, pharmacy banner groups, schools of pharmacy, other regulators, as well as students, interns, preceptors and consumers.
Supervised practice is an established component of the pathway to gaining registration as a pharmacist in several countries including Australia. However, the models vary widely. Forum attendees received a briefing paper which:
Facilitated by the Board, stakeholders came together to share thoughts and opinions on the current internship model and options for supervised practice in the future, which also needs to meet objectives of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme including:
Next steps will include preliminary consultation on a draft revised registration standard for supervised practice, followed by public consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including the public and the profession.
During the forum we discussed the assessment of interns during their internship year. The Board and the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) have developed a set of workplace-based assessment (WBA) tools to help preceptors and supervising pharmacists in the work they do to mentor, advise and train intern pharmacists. These tools complement the Intern Year Assessment Blueprint, which sets out the preferred intern assessment options, including assessment in the workplace. The assessment tools can be incorporated into workplace intern training programs in diverse pharmacy settings and include user guides and a variety of short assessment templates.
Have you used workplace-based assessment tools? The APC would love to hear from you! Send feedback by completing the WBA evaluation survey and enter a raffle at the end of the survey to win one of six $50 e-gift certificates. The survey closes at COB on Thursday 30 November 2023. Find out more at Intern Workplace-based Assessment | Australian Pharmacy Council.
The annual World Pharmacists Day was on 25 September and ‘Pharmacy strengthening health systems’ was the theme for 2023. This day highlighted the important role pharmacists play in improving the health of people across Australia and the world.
Read our media release on World Pharmacists Day.
We are highlighting two of the issues which led to notifications since the last newsletter to help you understand and meet your professional and legal obligations as a registered pharmacist.
When providing dose administration aids (DAA), remain vigilant when handing these over to the patient or carer to ensure that the correct DAA is supplied, and that the patient’s name matches the DAA provided. When multiple DAAs are stored together for collection, ensure that each DAA belongs to that patient before the patient leaves the pharmacy.
A recent notification involved a patient who was collecting their DAAs once a month and was given four weekly DAAs bundled together. It was verified that the patient’s name and address printed on the face of the DAA matched that of the patient. However, it was later discovered that on one DAA, the header card containing the patient’s name and address did not match the medication profile and patient name on the back of the DAA. The patient took two doses of medication meant for another patient before noticing the error.
The Board’s Code of conduct outlines that good practice for risk management involves several steps, including developing and implementing processes that identify and minimise risk to patient safety and taking all reasonable steps to address an issue if there is reason to think that the safety of patients or clients may be compromised. Reporting errors as they occur helps in learning from mistakes and ultimately reduces the risk of such errors in the future.
There have been recent cases where Ahpra has prosecuted individuals for holding out as a registered pharmacist in breach of section 116 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law). This has occurred when pharmacists have failed to renew their registration and continued to practise unregistered, as well as instances in which documents were falsified and the person claimed to be a registered pharmacist when they were not.
Ahpra keeps a public register of every health practitioner who is registered to practise in Australia in the 16 health professions regulated under the National Law, including pharmacists. The Register of practitioners (also accessible via the Board’s website) allows you to look up every pharmacist who is registered to practise in Australia.
When a pharmacist’s name appears on the list, you know that they are allowed to practise. Sometimes a pharmacist has a type of registration or conditions that limit what they can do. This information is also published on the register.
Sometimes the name listed on the register is different to the name they may be commonly known by.
If you are an employer, you should not rely on copies of registration documents provided by employees. Always check the public register to verify the registration of your staff before they begin working, and regularly throughout their employment to ensure staff maintain their registration.
If a pharmacist’s name does not appear on the public register or you have questions about the details shown, you can call Ahpra on 1300 419 495 to seek further information.
Pharmacists have until 30 November 2023 to renew their general or non-practising registration on time and avoid late fees which apply after this date.
We encourage you to renew early to avoid delays during the busy renewal period. Remember that when applying for renewal of registration online, you will need to declare whether you have met the Board’s registration standards, which for pharmacists holding general registration, includes completion of the annual minimum continuing professional development by 30 September 2023.
Look out for an email from Ahpra providing access to online renewal.
The registration fee for pharmacists will increase by 3 per cent to $452 from 20 September. This will cover the registration period from 1 December 2023 to 30 November 2024.
The Board recognises the current challenges facing pharmacists and is committed to keeping fee increases as low as possible while ensuring we can meet our regulatory obligations and the expectations of the public and practitioners.
Read more in the news item.
Head to the registration renewal webpage to start an online application.
If you submit your application on time, or during the following one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is assessed.
If you don’t renew by the end of the late period, 31 December 2023, your registration will lapse, you’ll be removed from the public register and you won’t be able to use the protected title for the profession.
Read the renewal FAQs on the Ahpra website for helpful tips and information on what you need to do to renew.
We cover common questions on professional indemnity insurance, recency of practice, continuing professional development, and what to do if you have a change in your criminal history or health impairments you need to tell us about.
The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 30 June 2023. At this date there were 36,425 registered pharmacists. There are:
For further data breakdowns by division, age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.
Check out our graduate video to help you get your application right.
You’ll find helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay and downloadable information flyers on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.
A new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team (the support team) is also available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates who might need help with or have questions about their application for provisional registration. The support team is committed to helping graduates get registered promptly so you can start making vital contributions to safe healthcare and to your communities. If, after reading our helpful tips, you would still like help with your application for registration, please email the support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to a Justice of the Peace (JP), most registered health practitioners, public servants, teachers, lecturers and members of the legal profession can certify photographic ID documents. For the full list of authorised officers see the Certifying documents guide.
It's important that you provide correctly certified photo ID documents with your application as the wording required is specific:
‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original and the photograph is a true likeness of the person presenting the document as sighted by me.’
To get it right the first time, download the Certifying documents guide and take it with you to the authorised officer.
You may need to provide supporting documents with your application to prove that you meet the Pharmacy Board’s registration standards, including meeting the English language skills requirements. Make sure you provide all the documents we need with your application so we can assess it quicker.
We can’t finalise your application until we receive your graduation results from your education provider.
If you’ve submitted everything needed to prove you’ve met the requirements for registration, we aim to finalise your application within two weeks of receiving your graduation results from your education provider.
For more information, read the news item.
We publish summaries of court and tribunal cases for their educational value to the profession.
An Adelaide woman has been convicted and fined $1,200 for holding herself out as a pharmacist when she completed 10 shifts at two different Adelaide pharmacies in August 2021 without being registered.
A Perth-based pharmacist has been disqualified from applying from registration for five years following a criminal conviction, effectively ending the 66-year-old’s career in pharmacy.
Cosmetic procedures, including Botox and other anti-wrinkle injections and fillers, will be under the spotlight in an expansion of Ahpra’s year-long crackdown on Australia’s cosmetic surgery industry. Stronger public safeguards are needed because of escalating consumer demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures and more health practitioners seeking a career in the cosmetics industry.
One year on from the cosmetic surgery review, work is complete on most reforms with higher practice standards and new advertising rules for medical practitioners now in place. Further reforms will focus on the non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry with new guidelines coming for all health practitioners providing these services.
The planned overhauls are likely to place a stronger emphasis on informed consent and pre-procedure consultation, including a patient suitability assessment. There will also be a focus on prescribing and administering prescription-only cosmetic injectables.
Proposed new advertising guidelines are likely to focus on the use of ‘before and after’ images, claims about expertise and qualifications of practitioners, and affirm the ban on the use of testimonials. There will also be clear rules on the use of influencers and social media figures.
Public consultation on the proposed guidelines will open in coming months ahead of their release in the first half of 2024.
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 episode is 'Coming to a land down under: Australia as a destination for health practitioners'. This episode examines the path overseas health workers must tread when wanting to work in Australia.
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