The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has today spoken out against calls from the Pharmacy Guild to hand more power to the nation’s pharmacists.
Asreported today by Dana McCauley in The Sydney Morning Herald, pharmacists have seized on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to escalate their campaign of taking on more tasks performed by GPs.
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon has slammed the Pharmacy Guild’s move.
“This is a cynical ploy from the Pharmacy Guild to exploit COVID-19 to achieve long sought after changes that will hand greater power to retail pharmacies.
“It is yet another example of the pharmacy sector trying to place financial gains ahead of patient care and safety.
“Ensuring a patient’s continuity of care with their GP is vital. We don’t just hand out medicines we talk to our patients about preventative care, provide a check-up and carefully record their medical history.”
Dr Nespolon said that increased pharmacy sector powers could cause tremendous harm.
“To take just one example, allowing pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections is a recipe for disaster because one of the greatest challenges our healthcare system faces is antimicrobial resistance caused by the misuse and over-use of antibiotics.
“We are already seeing increasing resistance to antibiotics in urinary tract infections so handing pharmacists these prescription powers is bad news for public health and safety.”
The RACGP President said that there were other avenues available to fight coronavirus.
“If the Pharmacy Guild was serious about helping Australians during a pandemic, they would stop their opposition to an easing of dispensing restrictions. This would enable people to access two month supplies of commonly prescribed medicines.
“Unwell patients do not want to have to visit a pharmacy, where they will be surrounded by other unwell patients, more often than is absolutely necessary.
“Perhaps it’s time that we look to the ‘Amazon model’ of allowing delivery to a patient’s home, again significantly decreasing the risk of exposure.”
The RACGP has consistently argued that:
· Pharmacists are not medically trained and are not a substitute for GPs
· It is not appropriate to conduct sensitive health consultations in a busy retail pharmacy setting, where other customers may overhear private health conversations
· Retail pharmacies have financial and commercial conflicts of interest between prescribing and selling medications and services which are best for the patient or best for their business.