All health professionals including pharmacists should be exempted from mandatory reporting requirements, according to a

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submission released by the peak national body for pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).

PSA has urged the COAG Health Council to adopt Western Australia’s model of mandatory reporting provisions for pharmacists seeking treatment for mental health and stress-related conditions.

To achieve a nationally consistent approach, COAG’s consultation paper has proposed four options, including the adoption of the WA model (Option 2), which exempts treating practitioners from mandatory reporting requirements.

PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson said: “PSA strongly supports access to healthcare for health professionals balanced with public safety.

“Pharmacists should be able to seek treatment for health issues confidentially without fear that their professional careers will be at risk. That’s why PSA recommends that the COAG Health Council progress Option 2, as outlined in the discussion paper.

The latest data from the Australian National Coronial Information System shows doctors and other health workers have the highest suicide rate among Australia’s white-collar workforce. Between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2014, 153 health professionals died as a result of suicide.

We are concerned that fear of mandatory reporting may reduce access to necessary healthcare for vulnerable health practitioners,” Dr Jackson said.

Dr Jackson said Australia’s pharmacy profession has robust codes, standards and guidelines for ethical and professional practice, including PSA’s Code of Ethics, Professional Practice Standards and the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct for Pharmacists.

“Therefore PSA believes that pharmacists in Australia are well equipped to exercise professional judgement and meet their professional and ethical obligations to report a serious risk of harm,” Dr Jackson said.

PSA supports pharmacists – and all other health practitioners – being able to access treatment for health issues without concern or the potential impact on their registration.

Pharmacists needing support can also access the independent and free Pharmacists’ Support Service run by pharmacists for pharmacists. Phone: 1300 244 910

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