As of 29 June 2022 the Pharmacy Board of Australia (“Pharmacy Board”), along with eleven other National Boards, replaced the previous code of conduct (“Code”) (first put into effect on 17 March 2014) with a revised and updated Code. While these updates should be considered by all pharmacists, we note that some will be of particular significance for proprietor pharmacists.

We have detailed some of the key updates below.

Management of Other Practitioners

Where a pharmacist employs another pharmacist, they must not set performance targets, quotas, or engage in business practices that may conflict with the Code or compromise patient safety.

Proprietor pharmacists must consider this when making decisions on staffing and implementing staff incentivisation practices or procedures at their pharmacy. Should you currently have, or plan to introduce, quotas or targets for your pharmacists please contact us for advice as this is likely to risk your compliance with the Code.

Complaints and Investigations

The updated Code now contains a positive obligation on pharmacists to cooperate with:

  1. the Pharmacy Board in responding to any complaint or notification; and
  2. any other legitimate investigation into offences under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

With the recent levels of investigation in relation to proprietor pharmacists and their practice, we suggest that all pharmacists take particular note of this update and bear it in mind when dealing with any regulatory bodies in relation to any alleged breaches or offences.

Promptness and cooperation are key with any investigation of this nature, and should you receive any notice or request we are able to assist.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Safety

Pharmacists must now “consider the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and their health and cultural safety”. In seeking to comply with this Code of Conduct Principle, pharmacists should have regard to two newly defined concepts introduced with this update:

  1. Cultural Safety “is determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities”.
  2. Culturally Safe Practice “is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism”.

These concepts contain a degree of subjectivity which means that all pharmacists should be avoiding the use of a “one size fits all” approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Instead, pharmacists should be consistently assessing their own behaviour and biases in the context of their interactions with patients. We recommend implementing training and some internal guidance for your team to ensure they are aware of this issue.

Wrap Up

Considering the level of scrutiny placed on the professional conduct of pharmacists (particularly those operating their own pharmacies), all practicing pharmacists should be aware of the above updates, as well as the balance of the Code’s provisions.

If you require any assistance with any disciplinary proceedings, or if you have any other questions in relation to your practice, please get in touch with our pharmacy team for a complementary initial consultation.

Leave a Reply