Queensland moves ahead on scope of practice with statewide expansion of prescribing pilot

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The Queensland government is not waiting for the outcome of the federal government's scope of practice review with the statewide expansion of its pharmacy scope of practice pilot.

The North Queensland Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot was initially planned to be implemented in only northern Queensland, from Mackay to the Torres Strait.

However, Queensland health minister Shannon Fentiman has announced the pilot enabling pharmacists to administer a wider range of vaccines and prescribe medicines for common conditions will be expanded statewide.

Participating pharmacists will be able to prescribe medicines for contraception, asthma, nausea, nasal congestion and runny nose medication, mild skin condition treatments, some heart disease risk reduction, and smoking cessation.

Almost 300 North Queensland pharmacists are completing additional training with pilot services due to commence in March 2024. Recruitment of pharmacists for the expanded pilot will commence this year, with a phased rollout for training and commencement of pilot services over 2024 and 2025.

The statewide pilot coincides with the federal government's recently launched scope of practice review led by chair Professor Paul Cormack, which is scheduled to deliver its report at the end of 2024.

“This nation-first pharmacy pilot is an innovative way to ensure Queenslanders have access to high-quality and cost-effective primary healthcare," said Minister Fentiman.

“Pharmacists are highly trained and regulated healthcare professionals, and this pilot will ensure their expertise is used to its full scope.

“Pharmacy prescribing models of care are used effectively in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.

“This will also help address the impacts of workforce shortages and distribution problems, particularly in regional and rural communities.

“This program is designed to supplement, not replace, existing services and give consumers more choice," said the minister.

Rick Xynias, the acting Queensland branch president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, added, "Today's announcement demonstrates that Queensland is leading the way for community pharmacists to practice to their full scope of training and underlines the critical role community pharmacists play within the primary healthcare network."