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Health Ombudsman releases follow up report two years after Schedule 8 medicine regulation investigation

The Queensland Health Ombudsman has published an update two years on from an investigation into the prescribing and dispensing of Schedule 8 medicines. The report provides a snapshot of the current landscape of schedule 8 medications in Queensland and highlights the key initiatives and activities implemented since the 2016 investigation.The report shows 13 of the 16 recommendations have been fully implemented and the remaining three recommendations will be implemented when a proposed Bill is passed into legislation and a subsequent education program commences. The Health Ombudsman notes that Queensland Health has been a committed and actively engaged partner in improving the regulation of schedule 8 medications.

“The supplementary report demonstrates the Office’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of the Queensland public,” Health Ombudsman Andrew Brown said.

“My office has also contributed, together with Queensland Health and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), towards draft legislation that has the potential to be crucial in streamlining and improving Queensland’s regulation of scheduled medicines.

“I am satisfied that progress has been made in the way of improving the regulation and management of scheduled medications, and I support the passage of the proposed legislation,” Mr Brown said.

The Health Ombudsman’s report highlights the following key achievements since the 2016 investigation:

  • A draft Bill and regulation to address specific issues identified in the 2016 investigation.
  • A business case for a state-wide real-time prescription monitoring system with the capability to monitor schedule 8 medications.
  • Improved risk identification and escalation strategies to support appropriate prescribing and dispensing practices by health professionals.
  • Interagency liaison process to identify trigger points for information sharing and referral between agencies, resulting in a draft Memorandum of Understanding.

The 2016 investigation report included a recommendation monitoring plan that outlined expectations regarding implementation and monitoring activities by the office, requiring the submission of a progress report and quarterly meetings between Queensland Health and the office.

The office received two comprehensive progress reports from the Director-General, Queensland Health, containing an explanation and evidence of actions taken by Queensland Health towards implementing the 16 recommendations.

“I am satisfied all 16 recommendations have been either fully implemented or are in progress, dependant on draft legislation. The implementation of the recommendations has improved regulatory agencies’ understanding of their mutual roles, responsibilities and relationships and improves the health and safety of the general public,” Mr Brown said.

The full investigation report is available to download from the OHO website at www.oho.qld.gov.au.

—ENDS

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