AMA president Michael Gannon has declared himself to be in “furious agreement” with Guild president George Tambassis regarding GP-pharmacist collaboration and even some medical certificates.
In a joint interview with Deb Knight on Today on Sunday yesterday, the two discussed a range of topics including where pharmacists can step in to help alleviate some of the pressure on GPs, as outlined in the recent MBS report; and whether pharmacists as retailers of medicines have a conflict of interest.
“Community pharmacies all around Australia are already able to issue absence from work certificates… that’s what the review came out with, that some doctors are, I suppose, a little bit disgruntled with doing too many doctor’s certificates,” Tambassis told Knight.
“We do absence from work certificates and they are for minor ailments and only up to one day in duration.
“Plenty of patients come and see pharmacies or community pharmacies all around Australia ‘cos we’re very well distributed all around Australia—community pharmacists don’t require appointments, we’re the most accessible healthcare professionals, so people are already coming to us,” he said.
He highlighted pharmacist vaccination services as well as collaborating with and referring to GPs, as well as the fact that, “We certainly are very well qualified to look after minor ailments as well, such as colds and headaches.
“We believe we can perform a great service to the community, and lessen the burden to our local doctors for them to concentrate on more chronic diseases, and collaborate with our doctors.”
Dr Gannon said that he was “delighted to be in furious agreement with everything that George has said”.
For longer absences from work or a repeat prescription, though, Australians are more likely to want to visit a doctor, he said.
“There’s nothing simple about seeking a repeat prescription,” said Dr Gannon.
Knight also asked Tambassis whether there was a conflict of interest in pharmacists potentially prescribing medicines when they are also the seller of those medicines.
“In actual fact, that happens in my pharmacy every day,” Tambassis said.
But “we have to make it clear that the first thing that we’re trying to do is to get a better patient outcome—we make that clear with our patients when they come in— we often stop medications being sold in our pharmacies.
“We’re clear and transparent about it all the time.”
Dr Gannon replied, “I think that the current system serves us well where the situations are at arm’s length: doctors prescribe, pharmacists dispense—that avoids this ethical conundrum.”