SafeScript, VictoriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s real-time prescription monitoring system, is on track for implementation to start later this year. After an 18-month introductory period, it will be mandatory for clinicians in Victoria to check SafeScript when writing or dispensing a prescription for a medicine monitored through the system. These are all Schedule 8 medicines, Schedule 4 benzodiazepines, z-drugs (zolpidem and zopiclone) and quetiapine. Schedule 4 codeine will be included at a later stage to allow clinicians time to adjust to the reschedule of over-the-counter codeine products to prescription only.
SafeScript will collect prescription records in real-time from proscribing and dispensing systems connected to a Prescription Exchange Services (PES), eRx or MediSecure, without any additional data entry required by clinicians. Some regulatory changes are necessary to ensure accurate and complete patient data in the system.
These changes will take effect from 1 July 2018 and will require prescribers to include a patient's date of birth on all prescriptions for monitored medicines and pharmacists to ensure a patient's date of birth is recorded in the patient's dispensing record when a monitored medicine is dispensed. Under the new regulations, all community pharmacies that haven't activated the connection with a PES in their software need to turn on the connection by contacting their software vendor. For more information, click here.
Getting prepped for PrEP HIV
The Commonwealth Government has approved the listing of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). People at medium- to high-risk of HIV can now access PrEP through the PBS to help reduce their risk of HIV.
PrEP is the use of HIV medications to prevent the transmission of HIV. When taken daily, PrEP is up to 99 per cent effective in preventing HIV. Currently only one medication is approved for use as PrEP: tenofovir/emtricitabine. In addition to condoms and undetectable viral load (when a person living with HIV is on treatment, and is virally suppressed, they cannot transmit the virus), PrEP gives people another option to help prevent HIV.
PrEP can be dispensed with a maximum quantity of 30, with two repeats. Patients must return for a new prescription every three months. GPs should provide a full sexual health checkup, including HIV test and screening for the sexually transmissible infections syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia. The Victorian Government's clinical guideline for PrEP can be found here. More information, including full prescribing guidelines and risk assessment criteria is available here.
New colonoscopy categorisation guidelines cancer screening
New Colonoscopy Categorisation Guidelines are in place for Victorian patients that will affect the way GPs refer patients for colonoscopies in public hospitals. The guidelines were developed to ensure all patients are assessed and booked for colonoscopies according to their clinical risk.
The guidelines are designed to assist health services to consistently apply agreed clinical risk stratified treatment times for patients needing a colonoscopy, outline the information required from referrers to determine need and urgency, and to reduce unnecessary colonoscopies.
The Department of Health and Human Services has requested all Victorian health services commence triaging, categorising and treating new patients requiring a colonoscopy procedure in line with the new guidelines from 1 July 2018. For more information click here.
Scholarships to improve regional health services regional health
The Australian Government's Health Workforce Scholarship Program is available to health professionals in rural and regional Australia wanting to increase their skills. The Government has announced $11 million over three years from 2017-2018 to help make health services more accessible for people living in country areas.
Support may be provided to health professionals already working in areas experiencing a shortage of services, or to those willing to move to areas where there is a lack of services. There is a "return for service" obligation with the scholarships to ensure recipients practice in rural and regional Australia for at least 12 months on completion of their studies. For more information, visit the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria website.
Update on the National Cancer Screening Register cancer screening
Release 2 of the National Cancer Screening Register (the Register) will be available on 29 June 2018. This means all pre-December 2017 results will have been migrated from the state and territory registers to provide national records for participants of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP).
To ensure the safety net provided as part of the NCSP, participant follow-up and correspondence will continue to be delivered by the state and territory registers in conjunction with the national Register until Release 2 is complete. Please continue to speak to your pathology laboratory for your patientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s screening test result. For further information, please refer to the Quick Start Guide for Healthcare Providers (Transition) available on the NCSR website.