South Australia’s state government has created a $200,000 emergency fund to help community pharmacies continue to provide critical services during the Covid-19 crisis.
According to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) the funds can be used to maintain services when a “Covid-19-related event threatens the closure or significant disruption of pharmacy services” in the state.
The plan will ensure all South Australians have access to pharmacy services, including medicine dispensing and counselling, dose administration aids (such as WebsterPaks), medicines for aged care facilities and opioid pharmacotherapy in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak.
“Community pharmacy staff have remained on the frontline throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as an essential service and continue to work and serve their communities despite the risk associated with it,” said PSA South Australia president Robyn Johns.
“While Covid-19 cases in SA have remained quite low compared to other parts of Australia it is important for this measure to be in place to protect South Australians and community pharmacies.”
The government launched the fund, called the Continuance of Critical Community Pharmacy Service Program, after pharmacy groups, including the PSA, expressed concerns that a small number of pharmacy businesses, especially in remote parts of the state, might struggle to maintain services should there be a Covid-19 outbreak.
Pharmacies impacted by the pandemic will be able to apply to the program for assistance with a team of experienced pharmacy staff available at short notice to ensure the ongoing provision of essential pharmacy services.
“To prevent a pharmacy closure and ensure continued provision of essential services, the program will manage the deep clean of the pharmacy premises and the placement of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) with financial assistance provided through the support of the South Australian Government,” said Johns.
The fund will be available only to pharmacies that have exhausted all other options. Johns urged pharmacies to establish contingency plans for loss of staff or the closure of a pharmacy due to Covid-19.”
The PRA SA division will administer the program on behalf of professional pharmacy organisations.