Pharmacists raise alarm at safety of testing regime as community is starved of RAT supply

Media Release
10 January 2022

Professional Pharmacists Australia, which represents employee pharmacists, has raised concerns that the Federal Government’s undersupply of RATs is compromising the health and safety of pharmacy workers and the general public.

Reports emerged in recent days that some pharmacy owners were actually conducting the tests to meet the demand in the absence of an adequate supply of rapid antigen tests.

CEO Jill McCabe said the Federal Government's poor preparation for the supply of RATs could lead to an unsafe testing regime.

“While access to a limited number of tests for concession card holders was a small step in the right direction – it’s still grossly inadequate,” said Ms McCabe.

“We need to make RATs freely available to all, and we need to get the supply of these tests into a range of settings – not just in pharmacies.

“The tests could be supplied at state hubs, community locations or sent to people in their homes. This approach has worked in the UK, and it could work here.

“Because of the undersupply of tests and testing options, pharmacists are being inundated with calls for tests and are also expected to dispense medications, administer vaccinations and provide other health services. It simply isn’t safe.

Dr Geoff March, President of Professional Pharmacists Australia said, “Employee pharmacists are completely exhausted, and they are incredibly anxious about their working environment.”

Dr March said there was also a concern that some people who test positive using a rapid antigen test are going to pharmacies for advice and we need urgent alerts that people not do this.

“Government must get public health messages out on mass that drive people to the right health services and support them to make sound decisions to receive health care and also reduce the spread of the virus.

“The current situation is threatening the health and safety of pharmacy workers and the broader community.” Media contact: Tim O’Halloran 0409 059 617