Did you know that some community pharmacists in Canada can prescribe medications for certain minor ailments? In some Canadian provinces, you can see your local community pharmacist for smoking cessation counselling. And some Canadian community pharmacists can prescribe antihypertensive medication for the management of high blood pressure.

With 1 in 5 Canadians experiencing high blood pressure and 15% of Canadians using tobacco products, it makes sense to have these health services more accessible through community pharmacies, right?

Canada and the cases above are some current examples of community pharmacists practicing to their full scope – pharmacists providing more primary healthcare services for their patients. And Canada is not alone! Community pharmacists in the United Kingdom and parts of New Zealand practice to their full scope and provide more healthcare services to those in need.

It’s time Australian community pharmacists join their international colleagues and practice to their full scope. That is the purpose of the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot (North Queensland Pilot).

It is well known that community pharmacists play an integral role in primary healthcare systems around the world. Their important role was even more evident in recent years during the coronavirus pandemic.

Back in Australia, community pharmacists have and continue to be a crucial part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the country, having given more than 6 million Covid-19 vaccine to Australians. More recently in Queensland, the provision of antibiotics by trained community pharmacists for uncomplicated urinary tract infections has become a permanent pharmacy service available for women.

Australian community pharmacists have clearly shown they can provide more healthcare services for patients.

Australian community pharmacists should provide more healthcare services for patients.

The key reason why is because of you – their patients.

Canadian community pharmacists have shown that working to their full scope provides a range of benefits for their patients, including improved health outcomes and a positive impact on patient care, as well as being cost-effective.

Professor Ross Tsuyuki is a Canadian academic and, most importantly, a pharmacist practicing to his full scope. (Check out his experience below!). Professor Tsuyuki has been one of many leading the way towards Canadian pharmacists practicing to their full scope. His research on the benefits of pharmacist’s full scope practice has shown improvement for patients with:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension),
  • Diabetes (high blood glucose/sugar levels),
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidaemia or dyslipedemia),
  • Uncomplicated urinary tract infections, and
  • High cardiovascular risk.

Dr Ross Tsuyuki talks about Full Scope Practice

Don’t you think that Australians with the same conditions should be able to access the same safe, effective, and convenient primary healthcare service from their local community pharmacist?

Allowing pharmacists to do more will help ease some of the pressure on overworked general practitioners (GP) and overcrowded emergency departments (ED). Sadly, the news continues to report on long ED wait times and dwindling GP numbers. Pharmacists want to help and are perfectly positioned within their local communities to support patients' timely and convenient access to primary care. By treating some of the less complex conditions, it should free up GP appointment times for more urgent and complex patient care as well as reducing some of the burden on EDs.

It’s a no-brainer that the future of Australia’s primary healthcare system must include community pharmacists practicing to their full scope.

Through prescribing antibiotics for uncomplicated UTIs, Queensland’s community pharmacists have started the journey to practicing to their full scope. The North Queensland Pilot is the next step in the journey.

Community pharmacists participating in the North Queensland Pilot will be brought in line with their Canadian peers and be able to provide more healthcare services for their patients.
Optimistically, after the successful conclusion of the Pilot, community pharmacists practicing to their full scope will expand across Queensland, states, territories and across the country.

You can come along with the North Queensland community pharmacists as they embark on this journey.

Are you a
pharmacist interested in
learning more?

View Community FSOP Pilot Information Hub

Are you a
Pharmacy Guild member?

View member only FSOP resources
  • McLean DL, McAlister FA, Johnson JA, King KM, Makowsky MJ, Jones CA, Tsuyuki RT: A Randomized Trial of the Effect of Community Pharmacist and Nurse Care on Improving Blood Pressure Management in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus. Arch Intern Med. 2008, 168 (21): 2355-2361. 10.1001/archinte.168.21.2355.
  • Tsuyuki, R., Charrois, T., McAlister, F., Cooney, D., Lewanczuk, R., Kolber, M., Campbell, N., Rosenthal, M., and Houle, S., R., 2011. Improving hypertension management through pharmacist prescribing; the rural Alberta clinical trial in optimizing hypertension (Rural RxACTION): trial design and methods. Implementation Science, 6(1).
  • Tsuyuki, R., Rosenthal, M., Houle, S. and Eberhart, G., 2015. Prescribing by pharmacists in Alberta and its relation to culture and personality traits. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 11(3), pp.401-411.
  • Tsuyuki, R. and Watson, K., 2020. Why pharmacist prescribing needs to be independent. Canadian Pharmacists Journal / Revue des Pharmaciens du Canada, 153(2), pp.67-69.
  • Ross, T., 2021. Why is prescribing essential to the future of our profession?