Easing the pressure


Pharmacists working to the full scope of their practice could ease the pressure on GPs struggling to handle a mental health epidemic, says the Guild

A recent snapshot of national trends affecting GPs, released by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), reveals mental health and obesity are the two biggest concerns doctors have for the future.

These are also the two areas GPs want to see more government action.

General Practice: Health of the Nation was launched last week by RACGP President-elect Dr Harry Nespolon.

This annual health check-up on general practice takes the pulse of the profession, Dr Nespolon said.

“The report highlights the reasons why patients see their GP and how patients interact with the primary health system,” he said.

“It also flags areas of major concern which need to be addressed to help ensure that Australians maintain healthy lives and stay out of hospital.”

GPs are calling for urgent government action on Medicare, including better supports for mental health services, the RACGP says.

“If there is not a substantial and coordinated push to address these persisting health issues, I am fearful of what the future may hold for Australia’s healthcare system,” Dr Nespolon said.

“I hope that parliamentarians from all sides take note of the health of the nation today and remember that evidence based preventive care is always the best option for all Australians.”

This week Trent Twomey, president of the Pharmacy Guild’s Queensland branch, said that pharmacists are poised to help.

“This RACGP report shows GPs everywhere face an uphill battle in treating the number of patients who are seeking treatment for mental health issues,” Prof Twomey says.

“The quickest way to take pressure of the system and our GPs is by allowing community pharmacists to work to their full potential to treat minor conditions, administer vaccinations to children and continue to dispense medicines already prescribed, saving patients repeat visits to a doctor.

“This can only deliver a better health system and free up valuable GP time,” Prof Twomey says.

“Expanding the role of pharmacists must be part of any genuine solution considered by all governments to make sure our health system is best placed to treat Australians and keep them healthy.”

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