The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is welcoming the Queensland Government’s move to increase COVID-19 testing capability but says the safety of members of the public must come first.
It comes after the Palaszczuk Government announced on Wednesday that it would trial COVID-19 testing in pharmacies to increase testing capability in Queensland.
Chair RACGP Queensland Dr Bruce Willett said the safety of patients and the wider community needs to be the top priority.
“While the RACGP supports the principle of increased testing to help curb COVID-19, the safety of patients and the broader community needs to come first.
“Testing sites need considerable infection control procedures in place, including the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and environmental cleaning. Doctors and nurses are experienced in the use of PPE which requires training and is not a simple task.
“Testing sites should limit exposure to the community and risk to nearby businesses – the RACGP’s guidelines for GP-led respiratory clinics state that access to the testing site must not require a patient to walk through another health facility or public space, as this risks infection spreading. Testing sites should not be located in a mixed-purpose location.
“There are genuine concerns about whether retail pharmacists could meet these requirements and ensure the safety of patients coming in for COVID-19 tests, the safety of their other customers, and pharmacy staff.
“We seek reassurance from the state government that the pharmacists involved in this trial will meet the necessary safety standards and receive the necessary training, and can provide a safe environment for any patients coming in for tests, as well as customers and staff.
“To prevent fragmented care, the RACGP strongly recommends that pharmacists pass on test results to a patient’s usual GP, and this way they can also benefit from ongoing care from their GP.
“We need to do all we can to get on top of this virus, and increased testing is important but it must be done safely. The establishment of GP-led COVID-19 respiratory clinics is an example of how testing can be up scaled in a safe environment for both patients and clinicians.”