Spring newsletter 2019

Message from the President 

Welcome, introductions and important updates

Welcome to the Council’s first newsletter in our new newsletter format and my first as President of the Pharmacy Council.

I was honoured to take over the reins as President in April of this year, having been a Council member since 2016. As a pharmacist I have worked in a variety of practice settings, starting out as a hospital pharmacist in the UK and then moving to Australia where I worked in Melbourne, a rural area in the south-west of Western Australia, before moving to NSW in the late 1990s. I currently work at the University of Newcastle whilst continuing to work in a community pharmacy on the Central Coast during weekends. I look forward to continuing to work with the nine other members of Council, promoting the safe practice of professional pharmacy practice and protecting public safety.

The beginning of my tenure was marked with welcomes and farewells. Stuart Ludington (immediate past president), Adrian Lee (immediate past vice president) and Anne Reynolds concluded their final terms of membership in March. Their contribution and expertise was invaluable to the work of the Council and laid the groundwork for many of our recent initiatives such as the new newsletter and Council’s more proactive approach to supporting pharmacists practice safely. On behalf of Council we thank them for their service and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Erica Sainsbury, Majella Hill and Marina Holt commenced as elected Council members in April. While ‘new’ to the Council, they are certainly not ‘new’ to the pharmacy profession and each brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from their respective fields of pharmacy practice. Over the coming months, you can get to know our new Council members in our In the spotlight with… section of the newsletter, starting with Majella Hill.

Also in this newsletter, we have important updates from our Compounding Working Group, the Council’s inspectors as well the New South Wales Ministry of Health.

Finally, the Council continues to see a rise in the number of complaints and notifications received. The resulting increasing regulatory activity required by the Council has necessitated an increase in the complaints component of New South Wales pharmacists’ registration fee, in addition to the registration fee change recently announced by the Pharmacy Board of Australia. More information about the changes can be found in this edition of the newsletter.

Joyce Cooper



News from the Council

Compounding resources to be released imminently

Look out for the Council’s new compounding resources, which will be released imminently. The resources have been finalised following a lengthy and comprehensive consultation process, and will help practitioners compound safely. New South Wales pharmacists and proprietors of New South Wales pharmacies will be advised via email when the resources are made available on the Council’s website.

In recent years, the Council has dealt with an increasing number of complaints relating to compounded preparations. As a growing area of concern, the Council, via its Compounding Working Group, has developed these resources to assist pharmacists in understanding their professional obligations with respect to compounding and provide practical guidance to support improved compounding practices. They are designed to complement existing legislation and publications such as the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Guidelines on compounding of medicines and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary and Handbook.

Pharmacists are reminded that compounded preparations should only be prepared in certain circumstances. The Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Guidelines on compounding of medicines states that “the compounding of a medicine (whether prescribed or not) that would be a close formulation to an available and suitable commercial product, and would not be likely to produce a different therapeutic outcome to the commercial product, should not take place.”

For more information on compounding, the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Guidelines on compounding of medicines is available here.



From the inspectors: a change is as good as a holiday 

Since mid-May the Council’s inspectors have changed the areas they cover in their routine inspections of pharmacies throughout New South Wales.

Max Szwarcberg (0477 314 141) is now looking after what is described as the “northern half” of the state. This includes all pharmacies in suburbs or towns north of Sydney Harbour, the Parramatta River, the M4 and on or north of the Great Western Highway, the Mitchell Highway and the Barrier Highway with a small number of exceptions including  Greystanes, Pemulwuy, Oberon, Blayney, Millthorpe, Menindee and Sunset Strip.

Grahame Cox (0412 786 265) has, after 15 years, surrendered the north and will be calling on the pharmacies in the “southern half” of the state. (He did about sixteen months from July 2010 looking after the whole state so has visited many of the “southern” pharmacies.)

Each of these territories has approximately 990 pharmacy premises for routine inspections, relocations and new pharmacy inspections. So, if you require an inspection for a new pharmacy prior to its opening or a relocating/expanding/reducing size pharmacy, you will need to contact your area’s inspector, in the first instance, to arrange for the inspection.

Both Max and Grahame are entitled to take leave, so if one is going to be away, arrangements will be made with the other inspector to assist you, subject to availability.



Pharmacist registration fee increase 

The Pharmacy Council of New South Wales today announced an increase in the complaints component of the registration fee for NSW pharmacists for 2019/20. This will ensure the Council can continue its work to regulate the profession in NSW and protect public health and safety.

The fee covers the registration period for pharmacists from 1 December 2019 to 30 November 2020.

The Pharmacy Council manages complaints about the performance, conduct and health of registered pharmacists and pharmacy students in New South Wales. Pharmacists pay an annual registration fee to AHPRA set by the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

In NSW, the Pharmacy Council receives a component of this fee, referred to as the ‘complaints component’. This covers the cost of regulating the profession in NSW to protect public health and safety. The Council’s work to regulate pharmacy ownership and to maintain a register of New South Wales pharmacies is funded by separate fees paid by pharmacy owners. The Council’s primary objective is to protect the health and safety of the public and to ensure that high professional standards are maintained.

All NSW practising pharmacists will see an increase in the complaints component of the total registration fee that funds the work of the Council. The complaints component of general and limited registration fees will increase by $77 and the complaints component of the provisional registration fee will increase by $4. The complaints component of the fee for non-practising pharmacists will remain unchanged.

The Pharmacy Board of Australia sets the rest of the fee and has announced the total registration fee to be paid to AHPRA by pharmacists in NSW for registration in 2019/20 from 1st December 2019 (including the fee increase) will be: General $478; Limited $478; Provisional $204; Non-practising $336.

Pharmacy Council President Dr Joyce Cooper said the increases were kept as low as possible however were necessary to allow the Council to effectively regulate pharmacists in NSW. “The Council continues to experience an increase in complaints and associated regulatory activity” she said.

Over the past four years, the Council has seen a 62 per cent increase in the number of complaints against pharmacists and the number of pharmacists subject to compliance monitoring following a regulatory outcome increased by 167 per cent.

The Council’s primary role is to protect public health and safety in NSW, by regulating registered pharmacists. In NSW, this includes managing complaints, taking immediate action when necessary to protect public health and safety, and monitoring, auditing and assessing pharmacists’ health, conduct and performance.

“The Council has made considered projections of future costs,” Dr Cooper said. “This fee increase will enable the Council to continue to manage the increasing volume and complexity of regulatory activities.”

The Council will continue to work with professional bodies to increase standards of practice and reduce complaints.

Annual registration of pharmacists is managed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). More information on 2019/20 registration fees for pharmacists is available on the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s website.

For more information please see a list of FAQs. 


In the spotlight with...

Majella Hill 

Some may be familiar with Majella Hill, one of the Council’s newest members, through her role at the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) supporting the Pharmacy Board of Australia. In this interview, we find out how Majella likes to keep busy and what she is enjoying about being a Council member.   

Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your pharmacy background?

I like to keep busy. In addition to my role at the Council and my work at AHPRA, I’ve been a Pharmacist Counsellor at MotherSafe for over 17 years and continue to work in a community pharmacy alternate Saturday morning. Previous jobs have included working at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, QANTAS Aviation Medicine managing the emergency medical kits, the Royal Australia Air Force as the Director of Personnel and Resource Management  for Combat Forces, as well as owning a few community pharmacies with my husband. Public health and safety is where my professional career has always been centred.

While you’re considered a ‘new’ member Council, you’ve worked in the regulatory environment for some time. Has anything really surprised you since joining the Council?

I have been very surprised by some of the complaints we’ve dealt with at the Council, which demonstrate to me how some have lost sight of their professional obligations and responsibilities. The laws and regulations that govern how pharmacists practice are there to protect the public and we must always remember our crucial role in this.

What are you enjoying about being a member of the Council?

The Council’s role is remedial and I am enjoying supporting pharmacists as they make improvements in the way they practice so as to protect the public. What starts out as a stressful experience (of a complaint being lodged) can lead to improved outcomes for pharmacists and their patients.

Finally, what might we be surprised to know about you?

I am a compulsive knitter; my favourite pass time is designing my own patterns then knitting them whilst watching television!


Message from the Ministry of Health

Opioid Treatment Program Audit

Community pharmacists provide an essential contribution to the NSW Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) with an important role in reducing opioid-related harms in our communities. The Ministry of Health’s Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit (PRU) is currently conducting regular audits of NSW dose administration points, including community pharmacies providing OTP services to strengthen the safety and quality standards of service delivery across NSW.

The PRU audit has identified a number of concerning practices in community pharmacies, and compliance action will be undertaken on a risk-based approach.

Community Pharmacists supplying methadone and buprenorphine preparations under the OTP must comply with the NSW Opioid Treatment Program Community Pharmacy Dosing Point Protocol.

To assist pharmacies, a pharmacy self-audit tool has been developed collaboratively by the NSW Ministry of Health, Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Use the tool to:

  • assess your current practice against best practice standards,
  • help you identify gaps in practice and compliance with the regulation, and
  • improve your practice in the administration of doses for the OTP, including record keeping, storage of S8 medicines and documentation practices.

If you have any questions about the program, the self-audit tool or the Pharmacy Incentive Scheme, please contact the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (NSW branch) on (02) 9467 7100 or healthservices@nsw.guild.org.au

More information on the NSW OTP can be found on the NSW Health webpage.

Pharmacy proprietors should be aware of their professional responsibilities, as articulated in the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Guidelines for Proprietor Pharmacists.


To ensure you are fulfilling all your legal obligations under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 and the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008, you should be familiar with the legislation, and/or the Guides to the legislation, available on the Pharmaceutical Services webpage.