Urgent action needed for medicine safety in rural and remote Australia

16 MARCH 2021

Urgent action needed for medicine safety in rural and remote Australia

Pharmacy academics in Orange contribute to report about medicine safety and the use of medications in rural and regional Australia.

  • Charles Sturt pharmacy academics in Orange contribute to PSA Medicine Safety: Rural and Remote Care report
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Australia produced the report with three University academics
  • The report details the challenges patients in remote parts of the country have in accessing healthcare and their appropriate use of medicines

Charles Sturt University pharmacy academics have contributed to a report commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) about the healthcare and use of medications by people living in rural and remote Australia.

The third report in a series from PSA, Medicine Safety: Rural and Remote Care, estimates that 72,500 rural Australians are admitted to hospital each year due to medicine-related problems and 1.3 million Australians are not taking their medicine correctly.

Charles Sturt Discipline Leader in Pharmacy and Health Studies and Associate Professor in Pharmacy Practice in Orange Associate Professor Maree Donna Simpson was approached by the PSA to be involved because she lives in a rural area and is committed to rural health and education.

The report is a collaboration between the PSA and Charles Sturt’s Professor Simpson, Lecturer in Pharmacology Dr Greggory Maynard and Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Science Dr Heather Robinson, all working in the School of Biomedical Sciences in Orange.

“To realise that 1.3 million Australians were either not taking their medicine at all or not taking it correctly, as a pharmacist, just blew me away, I was absolutely concerned,” Professor Simpson said.

“The seven million Australians who choose to live in rural or remote areas shouldn’t have a different experience of health.”

Professor Simpson said that there are significant challenges in rural and remote areas, such as the tyranny of distance and shortages in the health workforce, which impact access to services that all Australians need to manage their medicines and maintain good health. The poorer access to services, the poorer the health outcomes.

“There needs to be more patient education about what their condition is and what the medicine does, so people better understand their medicine and why and how they need to take it,” she said.

“That’s the pharmacist’s role, we’re medicines experts.”

Five recommendations were made as a result of the research and report, including building a remote and rural pharmacist workforce capacity.

“We educate students in the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree to contribute to the supply of pharmacists,” Professor Simpson said.

“Demand for pharmacists has almost tripled, according to data from job site Indeed.

“We need a workforce strategy to attract and retain pharmacists … one thing that’s been shown to enhance that is pharmacists completing placements in rural areas.”

The full report can be viewed on the PSA website.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Associate Professor Maree Donna Simpson, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or news@csu.edu.au.

Photo caption: (From left) Dr Shane Jackson, PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman, Charles Sturt's Associate Professor Maree Donna SImpson, PSA Vice President Renae Beardmore and Charles Sturt's Dr Greggory Maynard at the report's launch at the weekend. Photo by Gareth Carr at Exposed Wolf

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