AMA: We support pharmacist chronic disease trial


While the pilot study has drawn strong criticism from doctors, AMA says it could be a positive step to support GP care plans

The Victorian government last week announced a new 18-month trial that will allow pharmacists to renew prescriptions and make dose adjustments to medication in an effort to ease pressure on the healthcare system.

Many doctors strongly criticised the move online, with some referring to the decision as “another nail in the coffin” for GPs and “pure madness”.

However the Australian Medical Association says that while the trial may appear “controversial in many respects”, it is actually about supporting GP care plans by involving pharmacists within the primary health care team.

“If you look at the detail of it, this is about amplification of care plans that GPs actually make, and pharmacists can be part of a care plan that GPs make with their patients to enhance chronic disease management,” AMA Victorian president Dr Lorraine Baker told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“The proposal within this – and this is what we have to find out, that is why it’s a pilot – is that the GPs will amplify the range of dosing and the specific requirements the pharmacist will have to have gone through to decide whether the patient meets the GP’s required standard for a change of dose, and then will be notifying the GP,” said Dr Baker.

“So let me make it clear, this is actually coordinated through a general practice model of care involving a pharmacist.”

Dr Baker points out that AMA vice-president Dr Tony Bartone comments as published in Fairfax media sources are out of date, and do not represent the AMA’s current views on the trial.

“I am actually on the advisory group to this management pilot,” she says.

“We are always happy about is seeing chronic disease managed well, and government getting behind coordinated programs to deliver really excellent patient care. Why would we argue with that?

“When we step away from – is this about pharmacists? Is this about doctors? It’s about: let’s look at chronic disease, which is increasing in our community, let’s look at how it can best be managed, this is one trial of a slightly different way of managing. There are other trials going on around this state, in other states, undoubtedly around any one or all of these diseases that may show more cost effective ways of managing them. This is a trial.”

The PSA welcomed the trial proposal in its announcement last week.

“We applaud the new trial that will enable pharmacists to deliver primary care services to patients and help ease pressures on the health system, as well as meet the growing challenges of chronic disease in local communities,” said PSA National President Joe Demarte, who urged Victorian pharmacists to get involved.

Demarte also pointed out that services pharmacists will offer under the pilot program, such as renewing prescriptions and making dose adjustments to medications, are within the current scope of practice for pharmacists.

“The Chronic Disease Management pilot program aligns with evidence-based practice and models of care that are working effectively internationally and we welcome the opportunity for pharmacists to participate in this trial with GPs,” he said.

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