Pharmacist-led prescribing: nationalised approach, a step closer

By Tom Simpson*
Thursday, 28 September, 2023

Pharmacist-led prescribing: nationalised approach, a step closer

Earlier in the year I shared my views on the future of pharmacy noting pharmacist-led prescribing as one of the key areas of pharmacist specialisation that would help address the increasingly complex nature of health care.

In that short time, we have made significant inroads and are now closer than ever to having this proven model of patient-centred care realised across the national hospital pharmacy landscape. As Health Minister Mark Butler himself said at a recent pharmacy conference in July, “Change is coming. Because it must.”

The role of pharmacists in delivering a strong and resilient healthcare model has never been more important than it is today. And at SHPA we have long championed for pharmacist-led prescribing to be central to a pharmacist’s expanded scope of practice.

Pharmacist-led prescribing is made possible thanks to ongoing growth of specialty pharmacy practice. It is a model proven to reduce medication errors, length of stay and hospital costs.

In July this year, SHPA in partnership with The Alfred launched a National Credential recognising Partnered Pharmacist Medication Charting (PPMC) as an innovative pharmacist-led prescribing model.

Embedding PPMC in all hospitals is a fundamental recommendation of SHPA’s Position Statement on Medication Safety, which has shown to deliver care 10 times safer for patients, who spend 10% less time in hospital as a result.

Soon after this launch, my colleagues and I were thrilled to host Minister Butler at the Lyell McEwin Hospital in South Australia — which will be taking part in a landmark trial of Partnered Pharmacist Medication Prescribing, where collaboratively prescribing is still the foundation, but pharmacists will be able to be the sole authoriser of medication charts.

As part of this tour, Minister Butler spoke with Sam, who is one of the pharmacists taking part in the trial. Sam had recently been credentialed in PPMC telling the Minister how incredibly fulfilling it is to be a central part of a clinical team working with newly admitted patients. It was not only pleasing to hear Sam talk so passionately about her expanded role but to also see her truly demonstrate the power of collaborative care, as each PPMC episode involves a discussion with the medical team and patient to establish the goals of treatment.

Like any health professional will tell you, there is nothing more rewarding than delivering results to patients. And that is exactly what pharmacist-led prescribing does. It’s this type of collaborative model, where pharmacists and doctors work together to achieve better, safer care, that is already driving and will continue to drive the future of health care forward.

Just last month, we welcomed the Albanese Labor Government’s Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce Review borne from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report’s recommendations. This review champions multidisciplinary team-based care to build trust and collaboration between healthcare professions to expand scope of practice such as through programs like pharmacist-led prescribing.

Knowing the model works, and that it is already recognised and supported by various governments, we now look forward to seeing a nationally consistent approach to pharmacist-led prescribing programs to allow the benefits of this collaboration to reach more patients in more settings.

The future of pharmacy is indeed now.

Image caption: SHPA President Tom Simpson. Image courtesy of SHPA.

*Tom Simpson is the President of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia. He was the 2018 Tasmanian Pharmacist of the Year and recipient of the 2019 SHPA Medal of Merit.

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