The Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) welcomes the streamlining of pathways for internationally trained pharmacists into Australia's health system, as recommended in the independent review of overseas health practitioner regulatory settings.
The interim report identifies immediate measures that governments and regulators need to take to quicken registration processes, stating that Australia relies on and benefits from the skills of international health practitioners.
These measures include reducing timeframes by safely accelerating qualification checks for practitioners from trusted countries, more applicant support, and cutting red tape by removing duplications such as having to submit multiple document checks.
"We welcome the recommendations of this review. We're committed to a process that is agile, responsive, and above all emphasises safety," said APC CEO Bronwyn Clark.
"We've already begun work to remove duplication of evidentiary requirements across regulators and agencies and automating steps. We've also started looking into how we can recognise more countries with comparable health systems and education providers as eligible for faster registration.
"Overseas-trained pharmacists are not the only piece of the puzzle to ease pressure on the health system. It will take strategic coordination between Government and regulatory bodies. Particularly around boosting rural and regional workforces.
"However, we have a much greater chance of all Australians accessing timely and appropriate health care through contribution of their skills," Ms Clark said.
This report comes during APC's fifth consecutive month of record high numbers in skills assessments. Despite the high demand, APC continues to deliver and scale as needed, with eligibility checks still being completed within the specified timeframes. To ensure this, APC is recruiting more assessment officers to process eligibility checks and avoid long waiting times for candidates.
A key reform priority listed in the report recommends more support to applicants. APC's Candidate Relationship Team is dedicated to guiding candidates through each step of a journey that evidently can be complex and onerous.
"This team enables us to focus on key concerns from candidates. Where they find common threads, they work with the assessments, exams, and communications teams to improve our operational systems."
"We've been able to better gauge how many seats to reserve across exam test centres, predict upcoming numbers and prepare resources appropriately," Ms Clark said.