The challenges of recent months in providing pharmacy services whilst keeping staff and customers safe in a pandemic situation is recognised by the Council, and we understand how this has created additional stress on staff as well as customers. Pharmacists have been busy adjusting to the rapidly occurring changes and should be congratulated on their efforts to manage services in this public health emergency.
During this time we have also seen an increase in the number of complaints or notifications about pharmacists in NSW via Ahpra, the Health Care Complaints Commission and the Pharmacy Council compared to the same period last year. Not surprisingly, many complaints relate to the impact of Covid-19 which has created uncertainty particularly around the supply or access to medicines, provision of hand sanitiser and face masks, and some have highlighted communication issues in pharmacies.
Good communication with customers or patients is important to ensure they receive current advice and clear information. Part of this is to ensure all Pharmacy staff are kept up to date with the changes that impact services to customers. We highlight some sites which may be useful to assist in providing up to date information to staff and customers:
The Primary Health Networks distribute face masks to community pharmacies for staff use. Note, these masks are for pharmacy staff use only and cannot be sold to customers.
For information about local Covid-19 testing stations, see the Department of Health website for testing stations which is updated regularly.
We’ve also seen rapid changes in regulations around supply of medicines. In April 2020, there was an update to the medicines included in the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (NSW) for schedule 4 appendix D substances. In addition, changes that currently allow dispensing from an image of a faxed or emailed prescription for a schedule 4 medication. Note: this change does not apply to schedule 4D or schedule 8 substances.