Collaboration not criticism, say pharmacists

The AMA has again taken a swipe at pharmacists over proposed changes in Queensland, saying they will put GPs out of a job

Australian Medical Association (AMA) Queensland President Dr Dilip Dhupelia has warned against proposed changes that would allow Queensland pharmacists to dispense some medications without a prescription.

The state’s pharmacy inquiry provided several recommendations, including that the Health Department develop options for pharmacists to provide low-risk emergency medicines and repeat prescriptions, such as repeats of the oral contraceptive pill, and low-risk vaccinations.

“Many of the issues raised by medical practitioners and medical associations could be addressed by shared or collaborative prescribing model,” found the inquiry committee.

“Under this model, the prescribing doctor would need to authorise any repeat prescribing by a pharmacist, and the suitability of the patient to receive repeat prescriptions would need to be assessed by the treating doctor.

“There would need to be limitations on the number of repeats that can be prescribed, or the time lapsed, before a medical review is required, to ensure that the treatment remains effective and necessary.”

However Dr Dhupelia has warned that patients’ lives may be at risk under the proposed changes – as well as rural GPs’ jobs.

“GPs have on average 14 years of training. Pharmacists do not,” he told 7 News.

“Most rural GPs are bulk billing their patients and any further competition that they face will make their already marginal practices non-marginal.

“That training on the run provided to pharmacists will make them equivalent to general practitioners is farcical,” said Dr Dhupelia.

Meanwhile leading pharmacists have taken to Twitter to address Dr Dhupelia’s concerns by asserting the importance of “collaboration” if the proposed changes were to take place.

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  1. Karalyn Huxhagen

    As a pharmacist practising in rural Qld I see these programs as an opportunity for strong collaboration. The GPs I work with embrace and hold their pharmacists in high regard. we are often the eyes and ears and communicator of issues as there are not enough GPs , not enough allied health or pharmacists. So we work collaboratively and together we develop a shared care situation that supports the community. In drought situations a farmer leaving his property for a five hour drive to a fly in GP for a repeat Rx for Lipitor is a tough call and he may not think it is worth the effort. The fact that the community pharmacist and the community nurse can monitor this patient and follow protocols and alert the GP to situations that require attention leads to better adherence to vital medications. If you want evidence of just how amazing these collaborations can be please visit Clermont Pharmacy (Guardian phcy of the Year), Peter Crothers Pharmacy in Bourke,, Dysart Pharmacy. I have witnessed these pharmacists solve potential life threatening issues and liaise with GPs and HHS’s. Their preventative health programs e.g. mental health, cardiac care monitoring, sleep apnoea, immunisation try to keep their community as healthy as possible. Shame on you Mr AMA as you know only too well just how desperate the situations are in these rural communities. Let those of us who have completed the competency development to support the GPs and the community perform these roles. There is more than enough work in a rural community to keep a GP practice viable if the GP practice is managed effectively. If you really want to start to fix practice viability give me a call. I have a long list of why practices are going to the wall in Qld.

  2. Professor David Jackson

    The substantive issue is only whether patients’ care will suffer. It it does then strip pharmacists of this responsibility. If not, then all power to them.


    So will employee pharmacists be paid appropriately (>$28/hr award rate) for doing more services like this? When was the last time employee community pharmacists got a pay rise for doing all these extra services? Please post! Pharmacists are worth more! I’m in a fortunate position not to have to work much anymore but I still want to be proud of the profession.The current award and even ‘above award’ $35-45/hr just isn’t right.

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