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Pharmacists defend competence in wound care

Pharmacy,pharmacist,nurse,6CPA,wound care
Photo: Pharmacy,pharmacist,nurse,6CPA,wound care
Pharmacists will continue to treat minor wounds within their area of expertise and competence under the $1.26 billion earmarked for professional services outlined in the in-principle Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA).

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) national president Grant Kardachi has defended pharmacists’ capabilities in wound care provision.

“Pharmacists have had significant training over the years in the area of the wound care type situation that would arise in the community pharmacy setting,” he said.
“We are not treating complex wounds or whatever you might get in a hospital setting or pressure wounds or those sort of things - it is the wound care that comes into the community pharmacy on a daily basis.

“Pharmacists will be treating within the area of expertise and area of competence and thereafter the more complex situation would be referred to a wound care nurse or a GP for further treatment and advice if it was needed,” he said.

The comments come after the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said a portion of government funding should be spent on rolling out more nurse-led clinics, which work in collaboration with pharmacists, to improve care and management of wounds.

ANMF assistant federal secretary Annie Butler said while pharmacists are highly-skilled and should have a greater role in the provision of community health care, wound care should be left to nurses who have significant clinical training and expertise in the area.

“We reject the notion that pharmacists currently in their undergraduate programs gain sufficient knowledge in clinical assessment, clinical management and clinical judgement and reasoning with areas like wounds, skin conditions or particularly complex wounds,” she said.

“When your underpinning education is perhaps not all you think it is, how do you know when to refer? If you haven’t got those skills in clinical assessment how can you be sure that you’re acting in the right way clinically?

“We also reject the notion that they’re maintaining evidence-based practice…we get feedback that they’re not always even stocking the most up-to-date wound dressings and all of the other things that are used in the management of wounds.”

Ms Butler said the Federal Government should include nurses and other health professionals in its discussions about health system reforms.

“Nurses are just so frustrated that we see incentives going to other health professionals for activities that we really believe that nurses could perform better,” she said.

“We’ve tried to suggest the government should direct some money towards nurse-led clinics and there are nurse-led clinics specialising in wound management.”

Mr Kardachi said pharmacists are now seeking a structure around a fee for wound care provision.

“In the past pharmacists have done a lot of this sort of work at no charge for the consumer,” he said.

“We are trying to build in a framework in which pharmacists doing this sort of work can be appropriately remunerated.”

Mr Kardachi said while the agreement is still being finalised, early indications point to the $18.9 billion five-year agreement for the nation’s 5450 community pharmacies as providing a “fair outcome” for pharmacists and the community.

“For some time the pharmacy sector has been coming under more and more pressure, particularly with price disclosure where pharmacists are being paid less for medicines over recent times, and certainly a lot of pharmacies were starting to experience financial difficulties,” he said.

“I think there’s enough in this agreement now that we can say there is some certainty for the pharmacy sector and they can go forward now with some confidence.”

Mr Kardachi said the doubling of funding for existing and new professional services was one of the biggest wins for pharmacists to come out of the agreement.

“We see the future as being important where pharmacists’ skills can be utilised to the maximum,” he said.

“We believe in the past that pharmacist skills have very much been under-utilised so if we can utilise those skills we believe that pharmacists can play a much greater role in health care.

“It’s not just about pharmacists doing extra programs for the sake of it, they are doing evidence-based programs to benefit consumers to get greater outcomes and then at the end of the day if you can save the government money, that’s all good.”

Mr Kardachi said the detail of the new professional service programs is yet to be worked out but he said vaccinations, which have been consumer-paid, fall outside the agreement.


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords