COVID-19 information hub

SHPA is constantly monitoring the evolving situation surrounding the impact of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), as the health and safety of SHPA members and staff is paramount.

SHPA initiatives: Resources for pharmacy departments

SHPA initiatives: COVID-19 related CPD offerings

Related SHPA news

General information

Hospital Pharmacy Capacity Snapshots

Over five consecutive weeks in April–May 2020, SHPA surveyed members regarding medicines on-hand, supply from pharmaceutical wholesalers and manufacturers and hospital capacity and workforce issues in order to gain insights into hospital pharmacy operations in the early stages of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two hundred and seventy-two responses were received. Hospital pharmacy capacity snapshot reports were provided each week to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s Medicines Shortages Working Group, while a final report provides a summary of our findings along with six key recommendations.

For more information contact SHPA's Head of Pharmacy Futures Dan Guidone or General Manager, Advocacy and Leadership Johanna de Wever.  

COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Preparation Checklist

Informed by twice weekly Director of Pharmacy / Chief Pharmacist COVID-19 Management Meetings, SHPA is maintaining a centralised COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Preparation Checklist resource.

The checklist is not a strict guideline, but a live snapshot of potential issues and ideas related to maintaining patient care and staff wellbeing during the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australian hospital pharmacy.

The purpose of the resource is to help departments with three key strategic goals during the evolving pandemic: reducing cross-infection, protecting and sustaining the workforce and maintaining optimal treatment of all patients.

The COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Preparation Checklist resource will be timestamped and regularly circulated to SHPA's Director of Pharmacy / Chief Pharmacist distribution list.

COVID-19 Quick Guides

Emergency supply provisions announced in late March will allow continuity of treatment for outpatients who regularly obtain medicines from hospital outpatient pharmacies and fast-track the discharge process, while in early April, the Federal Government announced a new legislative instrument which enables hospital pharmacists to supply PBS medicines using digital image prescriptions, and which aims to minimise hospital foot traffic and protect hospital inpatients.

To help members navigate the newly authorised provisions, SHPA has developed a set of Quick Guides which provide information and guidance relevant to different jurisdictions. SHPA's Quick Guides will be updated regularly, and we recommend they be read in conjunction with specific laws in each jurisdiction, and that members are mindful of the 'last updated' date reference. 

COVID-19 resource update to AIDH8

In July we added a remdesivir monograph to the online version of AIDH, following the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s announcement on 10 July that remdesivir was provisionally approved to treat Australians with COVID-19, following similar approvals in the European Union, Japan, and Singapore. Read more →

In May we released a new section on optimal management of injectable medicines for Australians with COVID-19 disease, as part of an update to the Australian Injectable Drugs Handbook (AIDH). The new section lists how key medicines and important medical equipment can be managed or prioritised as part of Australia’s preparations and national response to COVID-19. Read more →

Purchase your copy today →

COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Relief Register 

SHPA is collecting details from ACT, NT, SA, Tasmania, and WA-based pharmacists, technicians and pharmacy students who are interested in being listed on a database of staff willing to work with sites suffering a staff shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will need your details and a CV, and a police check and working with children check if available.


Open the COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Relief Register →

COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Relief: Introductory Training 

All pharmacists, technicians and pharmacy students with less than six months’ hospital experience, who have signed up to the COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Relief Register, are welcome to undertake free introductory training on working in the hospital pharmacy setting. The training contains five hours of self-directed online learning

Open COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy Relief: Introductory Training →

Please note: signing up the Relief Register and/or completing of the associated Introductory Training does not mean you will be required for hospital relief work, as this will be coordinated based on location and skills mix of the hospitals requiring additional support.

COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy ICU Upskilling Package

SHPA has launched the COVID-19 Hospital Pharmacy ICU Upskilling Package, a free program of learning that provides a rapid introduction to hospital pharmacy in the intensive care setting, including medicine use, sepsis management, renal replacement therapy and the latest guidelines, considerations and possible treatment options for the management of COVID-19.

*UPDATE* Following a comprehensive review by SHPA's Critical Care Leadership Committee, the content of this package has been classified into three categories – Essential, Further Learning, and In-depth Learning – to help users navigate through the resource.

Recent updates, additions and expansions include:

  • additional recommended resources from Aus, UK and America relating to medicine use
  • a new section on COVID-19 national and society guidelines from peak bodies
  • additional learning areas addressing sepsis, analgesia, sedation, delirium, inotropes and vasopressors and renal replacement therapies.

View via SHPA's Online CPD →

COVID-19 Member forum

The COVID-19 Member forum is a platform upon which health professionals can share on-the-ground learnings, warnings and advice as the clinical implications of the virus continue to grow. Join in discussion forum conversations, seek information and use the resources.

COVID-19 webinar series

Understanding and knowledge of COVID-19 is evolving rapidly. While the content presented in these webinars was current at the time of presentation, SHPA urges all pharmacists to be mindful of the webinar dates when considering or utilising information.

Upcoming webinars

COVID-19 Journal club
This journal-club style webinar is hosted by Professor Andrew McLachlan AM, Head of School and Dean of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, NSW. It will focus on reviewing the following article from the New England Journal of Medicine: Remdesivir for the Treatment of Covid-19 - Final Report.
Wednesday 28 October, 12:00–1:00pm AEDT Register and access article →

Available recordings

Student placements during the COVID-19 pandemic (Wednesday 21 October)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many social distancing requirements which can make traditional placement arrangements difficult. These include limiting presence of multiple people on wards rounds, limiting movement of staff, 1.5 m social distancing on the wards and less access to space and workstations. However, maintaining placements and their quality is important for the development of our new practitioners. Whilst some sites have cancelled placements, others have maintained their numbers and have restructured placements to offer different activities and utilise the students as a previously untapped resource.In this webinar two sites will share their experiences in this space, as well as describe challenges and successes along the way.

COVID-19: Victorian pharmacist experiences during the pandemic (Wednesday 23 September)

Hosted by SHPA's Vic Branch, this webinar will examine the management of COVID-19 patients in various settings and during varied stages of the pandemic. Real case examples will be discussed, including COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment and management within a private hospital ICU, and requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

Member view via Online CPD →

Panel discussion: experiences managing COVID-19 patients (Wednesday 16 September)

COVID-19 has defined 2020 and presented a number of challenges for pharmacists on the frontline. Using case studies the expert panel members from Melbourne hospitals will discuss their real-life experiences with COVID-19. Topics covered will include design and constitution of COVID teams and structuring within hospitals, disease modifying therapies, post-acute infection sequelae and innovative approaches to pharmacy interventions.

Member view via Online CPD →

COVID-19 ‘Journal Club’: Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 (Tuesday 4 August)

This journal-club style webinar is hosted by Professor Jan-Willem Alffenaar, Chair of Clinical Pharmacy at The University of Sydney School of Pharmacy and Westmead Hospital in Sydney, and Fiona Doukas, Senior Project Officer, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Sydney, NSW.  It will focus on critically reviewing the article Remdesivir for the Treatment of Covid-19 — Preliminary Report utilising the CONSORT framework from the Equator Network website. 
Member view via Online CPD →

COVID-19 ‘Journal Club’: Emerging Evidence on Hydroxychloroquine (Wednesday 1 July)

Hosted by Professor Sid Patanwalahis, this second journal-club style webinar is brought to you by the SHPA Research Leadership Committee. It focusses on analysing the pre-print article Outcomes of hydroxychloroquine usage in United States veterans hospitalized with Covid-19, using the STROBE checklist from the Equator Network website.
Member view via Online CPD →

COVID-19: SHPA Advocacy (Tuesdsay 19 May)

This presentation was hosted by Johanna de Wever, General Manager, Advocacy and Leadership, SHPA and was given on 19 May 2020.
Member view via Online CPD →

The COVID-19 Pandemic: What comes next? (Wednesday 13 May)

This presentation was hosted by Professor Daniel Bausch, Virologist and Infectious Diseases Physician at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); Director, United Kingdom Public Health Rapid Support Team and was given on 13 May 2020.
Member view via Online CPD →
Open access via SHPA’s YouTube Channel →

COVID-19: Challenges in Cancer (Tuesday 12 May)

This webinar provides an overview current literature and recommendations for the management of cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will include shared experiences, practical strategies for managing staff and optimisation of patient care during these challenging times. 
Member view via Online CPD →

IV drug compatibility and central access (Tuesday 28 April)

Presented by Simon Potts, Senior Pharmacist, Intensive and Critical Care Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, SA. A recording will be made available after the event.
Member view via Online CPD →
Open access via SHPA's YouTube channel →

Inotrope and vasopressor infusions (Tuesday 7 April)

This webinar replay covers key concepts, import practice points and some clinical pearls on the complex topic of inotrope and vasopressor infusions.
Member view via Online CPD →

Treatment options for COVID-19 (Tuesday 24 March)

Hosted by Prof Jason Roberts, Professor of Medicines and Pharmacy at UQ; and Pharmacist Consultant, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, this informal webinar shares an overview of medication use in COVID-19 patients.
Member view via Online CPD →
Open access via SHPA's YouTube channel →

Management of COVID-19 patients in ICU (Thursday 19 March)

Hosted by Belinda Badman, Senior Pharmacist. Critical Care Team Leader, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Qld
Member view via Online CPD →
Open access via SHPA's YouTube channel →

ASHP COVID-19 free webinar recordings

ASHP is committed to supporting health professionals in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have launched a new COVID-19 Resource Center microsite that is updated regularly along with free access to ASHP's evidence-based online resources and webinars.

Advice specific to states and territories

Permitted Worker Permits required in Melbourne from 12.00am Thursday 6 August 2020

Key points

  • Permitted Worker Permits for staff required to attend essential work in Melbourne are required from 12.00am Thursday 6 August 2020
  • All health services provided within and to support a hospital (public and private) are essential
  • Emergency services workers or health workers who carry employer-issued photographic identification, which clearly identifies the employer, do not need a Permitted Worker Permit
  • Permitted Worker Permits are the responsibility of employers (download the permit template).

From Thursday 6 August – all pharmacists and technicians working at hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne must carry a work permit endorsed by their employer, or employer-issued photographic identification that clearly identifies the employer. Under Victoria’s State of Disaster, declared on Sunday 2 August, failure to carry a valid work permit while away from home for work can see persons who breach health directives being issued infringement notices.

Full information on eligibility, information for employers, issuing a worker permit, carrying a worker permit and implications regarding casual and shift work, commuting and transport and other situations is available on the Victorian Government's Permitted worker scheme website.

Advice on medicine supply

The TGA continues to closely monitor medicine supply to Australian consumers.

How to access remdesivir from the National Medicines Stockpile for treatment of COVID-19 patients

Gilead has donated a small supply of remdesivir to the National Medical Stockpile which will be available for use in eligible patients following application by their medical practitioner. Eligible patients are generally adults who are hospitalised with moderate to severe COVID-19 pneumonia. View the eligibility criteria →

The use of remdesivir outside of clinical trials has been endorsed by the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce.

Remdesivir is not approved for use in Australia but is being supplied under an Emergency Exemption made under Section 18A of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989. No separate Special Access Scheme approval is required. This supply of remdesivir is separate to and supplements Gilead’s Expanded Access Program which is operating in six tertiary hospitals nationally. It will enable access for patients who are not being treated at these sites.

An application form and more details about the supply from the National Medical Stockpile can be obtained by contacting Margaret Noris at the Commonwealth Department of Health.

COVID-19 related scheduling amendment: hydroxycholoroquine and salbutamol (Ventolin)

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Scheduling entries for hydroxycholoroquine and salbutamol (Ventolin) has changed overnight. Poisons for which the initial treatment of a patient has been authorised following the commencement of the Poisons Standard Amendment (Hydroxychloroquine and Salbutamol) Instrument 2020 by a medical practitioner, recognised under State or Territory legislation that forms part of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as a specialist in any of the following specialties:

(a) dermatology;
(b) intensive care medicine;
(c) paediatrics and child health;
(d) physician;
(e) emergency medicine.

SALBUTAMOL as the only therapeutically active substance:

a) in metered aerosols delivering 100 micrograms or less of salbutamol per metered dose; or
b) in dry powders for inhalation delivering 200 micrograms or less of salbutamol per dose; and where supply is limited:
c) to persons with evidence of a medically diagnosed lung condition; or
d) to persons with a record of previous supply from the pharmacist; or
e) to persons authorised under a law of a State or Territory to use or supply salbutamol in the practice of their profession; or
f) for use in institutional first aid; and where paragraph (c) or (d) applies—supply is limited to one primary pack of salbutamol per person.

SHPA national and branch events 

SHPA has embraced Australia’s ‘new normal’ of flexible learning amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions, re-launching our CPD Calendar to ensure safe, equitable access to innovative learning for pharmacists and technicians. The CPD calendar and event webpages feature handy icons to help you understand your attendance options. Information on event dates and details can be found via the SHPA CPD 2020 Calendar, or the Events section of the SHPA website. 

SHPA remains committed to implementing all recommended precautions from the World Health Organization and Australian federal and state health authorities, and will encourage all attendees to follow these guidelines, which will be communicated to all attendees prior to and during scheduled events.

Wellbeing resources

The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are not limited to health or economics, and SHPA is committed to supporting the mental health wellbeing of our members, their colleagues and the Australians in their care. Below are some resources which could be of help in looking after your mental health and wellbeing:

Mental health services and resources

SHPA Symposia: 

  • SA/NT Branch Symposium: Mental Health
    930am – 3.00pm Saturday, 19 September 2020
    This half-day virtual symposium will give pharmacists, irrespective of their practice area, an insight into the care for mental health patients and provide opportunities to learn about the diverse areas of mental health within pharmacy practice. Be guided by presentations from experienced pharmacists and practitioners! 
    More information and registration →
  • ACT Branch Symposium: Mental health
    9:00am – 2.00pm Saturday, 24 October 2020
    The symposium is scheduled for Saturday 24 October with the program currently being finalised. The times listed are indicative only, and will be confirmed with the release of the program. Information and registration available soon →

Quarantine/social distancing

Ahpra announcements relating to COVID-19

Ahpra and the National Boards are committed to supporting health practitioners to continue to provide safe care to their communities and will continue to update health practitioners and the public with information as it becomes available. All COVID-19 related updates from Ahpra and the National Boards can be found on their website and include: 

  • COVID-19 frequently asked questions – Ahpra and the National Boards address a range of questions about how the Boards would respond to requests for changes to the way that they register individuals in the context of managing the health sector impacts of COVID-19
  • COVID-19 update on supervised practice and registration examinations for interns
    The Pharmacy Board of Australia (the Board) has announced its decision to modify some of the requirements for general registration during COVID-19. These are interim arrangements which apply only during COVID-19 and relate to: supervised practice, examinations for general registration (written and oral), and June and October 2020 oral exams.

SHPA provides feedback to state inquiries into COVID-19 responses

SHPA has provided feedback to the ACT, QueenslandSouth Australian, and Victorian inquiries into COVID-19 responses. SHPA thanked the various state and territory governments for changes made under their corresponding legislation to facilitate the electronic transmission of digital image prescriptions and the emergency supply of medicines. SHPA also commented of the decentralised hospital systems of some jurisdictions and lack of pharmacy functions that had an effect on their ability to respond to the pandemic. SHPA highlighted the key concerns brought to light by the Hospital Pharmacy Capacity Snapshots including the difficulty in obtaining key medicines for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients.

SHPA commended the work of the various health departments and re-iterated the points made in our submission to the federal inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which included issues such as; supply to public and private hospitals, pandemic supply chains, supply to rural and regional Australia, transparency surrounding the role of Australia's strategic medicine reserves and medicines access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

SHPA provides feedback to the Senate Inquiry into the Australian Government's response to COVID-19 pandemic

SHPA has provided feedback to the Senate Inquiry into the Australian Government's response to COVID-19 pandemic. In the submission, SHPA commended the work of the Department of Health and the Therapeutic Goods Association in their quick action to ensure regulation changes and the connection of relevant stakeholders in medicines supply. 

SHPA also highlighted issues in medicine supply and access, including supply to public and private hospitals, pandemic supply chains, supply to rural and regional Australia, transparency surrounding the role of Australia's strategic medicine reserves and medicines access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Other issues SHPA made comment on included hospital preparedness, pandemic modelling and preparedness plans and variation in regulatory changes in relation to pharmacy and medicines as well as workforce capacity, revisions to mitigate the risk of a surge, and funding to peak bodies playing key roles during the pandemic.

SHPA made the following five key recommendations to the inquiry:

  1. The Australian Government should use regulation and policy to strengthen Australia’s medicines supply system to reduce the chance that Australian hospitals are left at risk of undersupply of key medicines during an international emergency
  2. The Australian Government should ensure the modelling of medicine requirements is an early consideration of pandemic preparedness in future instances
  3. Legislative and regulatory changes to support timely and safe medicines supply during emergency situations should consider the acute setting as well as the primary care setting as standard to avoid unnecessary delay and revision
  4. Population groups with reduced access to medicines, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, should be prioritised by the Australian Government for additional support during pandemics
  5. Future healthcare workforce planning undertaken by the Australian Government incorporates consideration of the need to ensure capacity for emergency situations such as pandemics

 View the submission →

Related SHPA news


SHPA office closure

The SHPA office is currently closed with staff working remotely. Until further notice, the SHPA Secretariat landline will not be in use, please direct enquiries to or directly to relevant SHPA staff via email or mobile.

SHPA Executive