s The Ascendancy of Warwick Plunkett | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 24/05/2010         Volume. 2 No. 5   
Information to Pharmacists

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Feature Contribution

Do the Maths - 1200 Graduates a Year and Increasing

Neil Johnston

Pharmacists graduating within Australia must have a reasonable assurance that on graduation they will have some form of a job available for them, after due diligence and reasonable effort on their part to get themselves recruited.
The current maths do not stack up - 5000 pharmacies to accommodate 1200 graduates nationally, and increasing.
Who is responsible for the planning for graduates?

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GPs were the ‘gatekeepers’ to the health system. Will they remain so?

James Ellerson

It’s often hard to tell which party is in favour of what outcome when reading some of the media coverage on doctor, pharmacy, nurse practitioner prescribing issues. Here are a few examples to ponder:

• the Guild is opposed to pharmacist prescribing

• pharmacists and nurse practitioners are to be given limited prescribing rights

• most GPs do not actually consult with a patient before issuing a repeat script.

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Is eHealth critical to navigating the world of primary care?

Dr Ian Colclough

Primary health care reform is firmly on the political agenda. For reforms to succeed they must be underpinned by the successful deployment of ehealth; absolutely.
The last decade has witnessed a major lost opportunity for ehealth in Primary Care. Many hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted on unrealistically ambitious and poorly managed ehealth projects; many of which have failed.
Aptly named Primary Health Care Organisations (PHCO), recently inappropriately renamed ‘Medicare Locals’, will be the centre point of the reform process. Consequently a palpable sense of urgency has developed around ehealth as its central role in the health reform process becomes increasingly apparent to politicians and bureaucrats.

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PSA Future of Pharmacy-Technicians to manage dispensing

Neil Johnston

Comment has been recently made in pharmacy media on the PSA Issues Paper on the “Future of Pharmacy in Australia” in respect of the upskilling of dispensing technicians to dispense without pharmacist oversight.
Comments offered on this aspect included reduced job opportunities for pharmacists, pressure to lower dispensing fees, opportunity to develop clinical services e.g. the ability to perform HMR’s.
No doubt more comment will follow as the paper is digested and potential flow-on impacts are thought through.
Writers will be participating through the pages of the i2P e-magazine to hopefully help build the future version of this PSA paper.

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Health: The Pollies are playing us as well as Orianthi plays the guitar.

Chris Wright

Our politicians are spinning like fury as we head towards the election and despite the fact their gift for spin doesn’t match Orianthi Panagaris’ gift for playing guitar they are getting away with electoral blue murder.
As for “fixing” the health system, the rhetoric is never matched by performance. After all, it is questionable that “fixing” health actually translates to votes, simply because the money required to make an impact is too great an amount compared to the votes gained…besides “fixing” is subjective anyway.

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What is it with pharmacy?

Garry Boyd

The colleges are churning out Pharmacists at a rate that would embarrass the most discerning “people-smuggler”……..

Apologies for the errant humor leading to an election.
Some 1,200 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed fine and mostly young pharmacists are hitting the job market and will somehow try to squeeze into 5,000 pharmacies.
Worse, a similar number will follow them fairly smartly.

What’s it all about, I wonder?

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Looking for answers

Barry Urquhart

Everyone, it seems, is looking for answers. For most there are none “out there”. Those who ask the right questions generally find the right answers “within”.

Solutions abound, looking for problems. Few can define and even fewer recognise the nature and presence of specific problems. Resources are being liberally allocated to furnishing, deploying or paying for preset solutions. Disappointment and dissatisfaction seem inevitable.

Experts are readily accessible. Expertise is harder to find. The business landscape appears to be lush with new green shoots, yet barren. Much like the desert and the Lake Eyre regions of central Australia.

The climates of regions throughout the world are changing. Temperatures are rising. Record cold snaps are also being recorded. Extended dry spells are evident, offset by deluges of flooding proportions.

Prognostications by some economists conclude “boom times” have arrived or are on the near horizon. Many consumers have obviously not heard or read of the confidence building forecasts. They are constraining purchases and outlays. Retailers, particularly smaller entities, are confused, and are finding trading is tough.

In recent times we have worked with clients from a broad spectrum of sectors producing formats, templates and frameworks which enable them to “look within”.

Real riches are being rediscovered, refined and celebrated. Positive and embracing corporate cultures, are being revisited and pride inculcated, because of what made entities great and competitively advantaged in the first instance.
Distinctive symbols and myths are being recognised, valued and applied for internal cohesion, self motivation and for external profiling.
The article text which features later in this transmission unveils and outlines encouraging lessons and principles on the role and nature of a positive corporate culture.

I commend it to the former executives, the players and besieged supporters of the once high achieving, now disgraced Melbourne Storm Rugby League team.
Barry Urquhart

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NAPE begs more questions than answers- for the moment

Neil Johnston

The ideal of having quality continuing pharmacy education, delivered in digestible “bite-sized” chunks plus convenience of delivery at an economical cost has been a dream for pharmacists for as long as I can remember.
With the advent of the new Australian Pharmacy Board there will be requirement for all pharmacists to undertake suitable education to maintain their registration.
While there are many acceptable education streams coming from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) and the Australian College of Pharmacy Practice (ACPP), there is not a high degree of planning to anticipate all pharmacist needs.
For example, the delivery of professional services for a fee – there is no identifiable pathway enabling individual pharmacists to develop a professional practice that could be incorporated into a community pharmacy, a primary health care organisation, a medical centre or other suitable location.

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Hmmm, I’m not convinced

Garry Boyd

A Woolworths “spokesman” (they are all still so very alpha at Woolies) has come out (excuse the expression) and declared the loss of interest in not only their “pharmacy” type trademarks but the industry of pharmacy itself.
980218 Pharmacist at Woolworths and 980219 PHARMACIST @ WOOLWORTHS, both previously registered trade marks, have been cancelled.

Comments: 3

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Naturopathy and my Doctor.

Chris Wright

To my pleasant surprise the family doctor offered a choice to address a painful problem highlighted by scans.
Acupuncture or an anti-inflammatory drug?
Acupuncture any day thank you, without the fries.

Comments: 2

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Better patient advice loses out to costly prescription errors

Staff Writer

A University of Otago study which shows pharmacists spend too much time seeking clarification for minor prescription errors has prompted a call for greater awareness among doctors and prescribers of this time-wasting problem.

Lead author and School of Pharmacy Senior Lecturer Dr Rhiannon Braund says the study of 20 Dunedin pharmacies found that in most cases unnecessary minor bureaucratic errors were the reason for pharmacists needing to confirm the intent of prescribers - usually doctors.

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Study shows Australian quality of life varies widely

Staff Writer

A survey of 5000 Australians conducted by the University of Technology Sydney has shown middle aged people express the lowest level in quality of life compared with people in their early 20s or mid 60’s.

The finding which throws the ‘life begins at 40’ cliché into serious doubt is among a number of revelations gained from the study.
Findings of the research will be discussed in a public lecture held at the UTS Great Hall on Tuesday 25 May 2010. Details for the lecture which is open to the public for free can be obtained from the UTS web site www.uts.edu.au/new/speaks/2010/May/2505.htm

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Public participation heats up on climate change

Staff Writer

Australians believe that climate change is here to stay, but their expectations about the severity of change fall well short of what scientists predict.
This is one of the key findings from a three-year study led by The Australian National University. The Climate Change and the Public Sphere project has interviewed more than 100 randomly selected citizens from the ACT and Goulburn about their views on climate change in various, increasingly severe, situations and how they are likely to react to it in the future.

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Killed by cold: heart and stroke deaths peak in winter

Staff Writer

* Perth and Sydney lead the country in winter heart-related deaths

* Tasmanians cope best with the cold

* Brisbane not far behind Sydney for winter deaths

* Darwin fares the best because it doesn't get so cold

Rates of cardiovascular disease increase dramatically in Australian winters because many people don't know how to rug up against the cold, a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) seasonal researcher has found.

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Traumatic brain injury linked to sleep disturbance

Staff Writer

A Monash University study has shown that sleep disturbances and depression symptoms are common among people who have suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
The team of researchers from the School of Psychology and Psychiatry measured in a laboratory setting the sleep of 23 patients with TBI with 23 healthy people who had not suffered trauma.
Study leader, Associate Professor Shantha Rajaratnam said patients with TBI showed increased sleep disturbance and reported poorer sleep quality, and higher anxiety and depressive symptoms than healthy volunteers.

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Blood Thinners May Prevent Malaria

Staff Writer

New treatments for malaria are possible after Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists found that molecules similar to the blood-thinning drug heparin can stop malaria from infecting red blood cells.
Malaria is an infection of red blood cells that is transmitted by mosquitoes.
The most common form of malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum which burrows into red blood cells where it rapidly multiplies, leading to massive numbers of parasites in the blood stream that can cause severe disease and death.

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PAC 10- A Focus on Pharmacy Practice Change

Staff Writer

Pharmacy practice must shift its primary mission from supplying medicines to helping people make the best use of medicines in order to meet the needs of the public and ensure its survival as a health profession.
This is the view of leading US pharmacy expert Professor William A. Zellmer who will present on the topic of The Imperative for Change in Pharmacy Practice at PAC10 in October this year.

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Drug Company Battles with NZ Pharmacy Guild

Staff Writer

In a recent news item reported in the New Zealand Stuff.co.nz highlights a drug recall problem that had significant associated costs involving community pharmacy participation.
It is a problem that could occur within Australia and is currently before the courts in New Zealand.
The problem does reflect on the existing culture within the pharmacy profession where for too long pharmacists have virtually donated their services in instances where there should have been an expectation of payment for a professional service.
PGA (Australia) could monitor the legal process in New Zealand and adopt a protocol, if the result proves favourable to pharmacy.
The story (found online here) follows below:

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Hmmm, I’m not convinced

Garry Boyd

A Woolworths “spokesman” (they are all still so very alpha at Woolies) has come out (excuse the expression) and declared the loss of interest in not only their “pharmacy” type trademarks but the industry of pharmacy itself.
980218 Pharmacist at Woolworths and 980219 PHARMACIST @ WOOLWORTHS, both previously registered trade marks, have been cancelled.

Comments: 3

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Sunlight shines on clean energy future

Staff Writer

Dr Zhiguo Yi and Professor Ray Withers have found a simple inorganic compound can efficiently oxidise water to release oxygen.
The production of clean energy and the treatment of waste water are set to become easier thanks to ANU researchers.
The scientists – Dr Zhiguo Yi and Professor Ray L Withers of the Research School of Chemistry at ANU, along with colleagues from Japan and China – have demonstrated that a simple inorganic compound, silver orthophosphate, can efficiently be used to oxidise water with only the power of light.
The oxidisation process can be used to convert solar energy to clean energy or break down contaminants in water.
The research is published in Nature Materials.

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The Ascendancy of Warwick Plunkett

Neil Johnston

Prior to negotiations commencing for the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia agreed that the two organisations would present a unified front in their dealings with government.

That did not happen and many details of the 5CPA were completed in secrecy and without the appropriate input by the PSA.

Explanations were later offered by the PGA, but they rang a little hollow and were certainly outside of the spirit of a unified front.

Certainly, on the surface it appears that the PGA did not honour an agreement and was prepared to discount their formal agreement to the extent that it seemed not to exist at all.

The news item reporting the rift between the two organisations follows and Mark Coleman has been asked to provide a commentary at the foot of this news item.

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The Ascendancy of Warwick Plunkett

Neil Johnston

articles by this author...

Introducing current ideas, perspectives and issues, to the profession of pharmacy

Prior to negotiations commencing for the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia agreed that the two organisations would present a unified front in their dealings with government.

That did not happen and many details of the 5CPA were completed in secrecy and without the appropriate input by the PSA.

Explanations were later offered by the PGA, but they rang a little hollow and were certainly outside of the spirit of a unified front.

Certainly, on the surface it appears that the PGA did not honour an agreement and was prepared to discount their formal agreement to the extent that it seemed not to exist at all.

The news item reporting the rift between the two organisations follows and Mark Coleman has been asked to provide a commentary at the foot of this news item.

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Source: Pharmacy News

Friday 14th May 2010

Guild disputes PSA claim

“PHARMACY Guild of Australia president Kos Sclavos is disputing claims the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) helped to shape the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

Angered by an opinion piece by PSA president Warwick Plunkett, featured in yesterday’s Pharmacy eNews, claiming the Society had influenced the outcome for the Agreement, Mr Sclavos wrote to Guild members.

In the letter he described Mr Plunkett’s claims “false and misleading”. “In the Minister’s press release on budget night about the Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding with Medicines Australia, she said: ‘The government appreciates the role which the Pharmacy Guild and Medicines Australia have played in constructively negotiating reforms that will result in better services for consumers, certainty for community pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry, and a more sustainable PBS for the future’. “That says it all in terms of those who were involved in the negotiations,” he said. However speaking to Pharmacy eNews, Mr Plunkett said the PSA had gone directly to the Department of Health after negotiations with the Guild over the details of the Agreement broke down. “The end result is probably the most important, and at the end of the day we got a good result…it’s just a bit disappointing that they seek to try and suggest they were totally responsible, which I can assure you they weren’t. “When we couldn’t gain any traction with the Guild in negotiating the contents of the 24 December Agreement, we quickly put out our proposals directly to the government through the department and the items we were putting forward eventually became the main game. “I don’t think that’s very important anymore… we got a good result in the end and that was the result of their negotiation skills and savvy, as well as what the PSA has managed to put forward,” he said.”

Mark Coleman

I have been asked to comment on the sad state of affairs involving the PSA, PGA and the 5CPA.

Recent history has shown considerable antagonism between PSA and PGA objectives.
While the objectives of the organisations are sometimes very different, they are both relevant to the continued good health of the pharmacy profession.

I have often seen derogatory opinions expressed (mostly by PGA members) that the PSA is too academic and not management-oriented in its approach.

On the other hand, PSA often complains that it is not included in the design of professional services taken on by the PGA and has cause for concern in the lack of suitable outcomes.

On the PSA side the famous Charlie Benrimoj comment pertaining to “gorillas” to describe some PGA executives, the John Menadue address at last year’s PAC (that was regarded as a “stir” by the PGA) created explosive reaction.

The MoU between PSA and the RACGP also caused an over-reaction.

And now the spat over who provided the more positive influence in the 5CPA regarding the type of professional services best suited to pharmacy and the bucket of money set aside in addition to that established in December 2009.

Up until Warwick Plunkett came on the scene, the PSA had a policy of “hibernation” where activity or comment was held inside until any possibility of an argument dissipated.

The PGA has long taken advantage of that policy and used their money and the PSA passivity to drive an agenda that was very lopsided for Australian Pharmacy and Australian pharmacists.

The pharmacists of Australia (those that do not own pharmacies) have been appalled at PGA policies that detract from pharmacist development and growth, and a rift has occurred and professional divisions have occurred because of this.

You can’t divorce pharmacists from pharmacies because they provide the “core” business.
To promote one side to the exclusion of others simply does not make political or business sense.

The person who is more likely to make first contact with pharmacy patients will be a PSA member (who may also be a PGA member) and less often, a straight PGA member.

So there is no doubt in my mind that the claims made by the PSA in the above story ring true, and the PGA simply had another “knee-jerk”.

Secrecy provisions insisted on by Nicola Roxon was the main reason offered up as to why PSA was excluded from the process.

We can only ask why wasn’t the national PSA president included in the same secrecy contract?
No problems with integrity there.

The PSA claims that they contacted Nicola Roxon on a direct basis about the inadequacies of the PGA approach and funding contained in the 5CPA.
An alternative proposition was put forward and it gained an extra $300 million funding.

It is unlikely that the PSA would make false claims and then publicise them through all national media. Their statements ring true and they have gained traction.

The proposed program will integrate with other services and programs provided by community pharmacy such as Dose Administration Aids, Medicines Use Reviews and Home Medicines Reviews.
As Warwick Plunkett states:

“Overseas experience will undoubtedly be drawn upon, but the unique factors of the Australian pharmacy environment mean that no off - the-shelf program will suffice.
We have to make sure it fits the needs of Australian patients and pharmacists from the start, and that it works from the start – which means that pharmacists are encouraged to take it up from the start.”

This is genuine leadership being initiated by Warwick Plunkett and I salute him for it.

And the PSA leadership ability is what Kos Sclavos is reacting to with his temper tantrums.

With little effort he is being out-manoeuvred politically, and his claims to all of pharmacy leadership aspirations are being shown up as being rather lacklustre.

Why else would anyone send a letter to all PGA members and describe Warwick Plunkett’s claims as “false and misleading”?

Particularly given the rate and quantity of “spin” that comes out from the PGA castle.

”Methinks he dost protest too much.”

And maybe the profit aspirations that the PGA place on systems such as eRx, Mirixa etc may now have a few dents in them, causing further heartburn and maybe even a rethink by members as to the conflict of interest levels ins systems such as eRx.

It appears that much of the 5CPA funding was to be diverted towards eRx which is more a tool than a professional service.

With an MoU with the RACGP in place, the PSA would have every right to throw its weight behind Medisecure, the system that is independently funded (but endorsed by the RACGP) and automatically accepted by GP’s.
After all, PSA and RACGP are basically “sister” organisations.
Medisecure has no problem in conforming to standards and also receives the government 15c rebate. eRx is not standards-based.

Recent events illustrated that the PSA direct to government approach was the one best suited for the government funding of professional services.
The fact that these later inputs to the 5CPA became the main game, showed PGA leadership and negotiating tactics and inputs to be lacking.
Because PSA became “the main game” what does that say about the PGA?

All pharmacists should lend their support to Warwick Plunkett’s leadership – not to create divisions, but to ensure a level playing field to enable proper development of clinical pharmacy programs.

The blunting of the more corrosive of PGA policies is applauded.

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