AMA submission to PSA consultation on pharmacists in the mental healthcare team

22 Aug 2012

Framework for pharmacists as partners in the mental health care team.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on a draft framework for pharmacists working in a mental health care team.

People with mental illness receive quality care when they are provided with a continuum of services by a multi-disciplinary, collaborative team. The AMA recognises that pharmacists play an important role within the health care team.

The paper implies there is some satisfaction with the current role of pharmacists in the acute care sector but does not describe it in any detail. It is important that the services provided to patients by pharmacists in a mental health care team in the community setting mirror those provided in the acute care setting.

The scope of practice of pharmacists as part of a collaborative health care team in the acute care sector and the primary health care setting must be determined by their education and training.

It is disappointing that the PSA has not described in more detail the scope of existing pharmacist competencies. The proposed activity for community pharmacists to undertake early detection and screening for mental health problems, particularly as part of opportunistic discussions, will require a diagnosis to be made. Unless pharmacist education and training covers diagnosis, this proposed extension of pharmacists’ services is outside pharmacists’ scope of practice.

Patient care is best supported by pharmacists working with medical practitioners and patients to: ensure medication adherence; improve medication management; and provide education about medication safety. This is currently supported through a number of programs, such as the Home Medicines Review program, as pointed out in the consultation paper. This should continue to be the primary focus of community pharmacists’ contribution to mental health care.

Improving the contribution of pharmacists in the mental health care team would be greatly enhanced by incorporating pharmacy services into general practice. This would allow GPs to lead a team of co-located health professionals, including pharmacists, in providing multidisciplinary health care to patients in the community. It would allow each health professional to work to their full potential in a well-supported environment.

Patient care could be integrated and patients would be seen by the right health professional, at the right time, for the right treatment and health care advice.

In order to co-locate services, the current restrictions on pharmacy location and pharmacy ownership need to be lifted to allow ownership by medical practitioners.