GP attacks ‘Pharmacist Guild’ in turf war

doctor crossing arms

An Australian doctor has attacked the “Pharmacist Guild” for encouraging pharmacists to take on some of doctors’ responsibilities.

Writing on his blog, Doctor’s Bag, Queensland GP Edwin Kruys has attacked pharmacists for “playing doctor” and wanting to be paid for “what they think are the easy parts of the doctor’s job”.

These roles include filling repeat prescriptions to free up doctors’ time; treating “easy” minor ailments, giving more vaccinations, doing health checks and giving mental health support.

Kruys claims repeat prescriptions and vaccinations are valuable opportunities for family doctors to screen for and treat health issues before they escalate.

GPs are also treating people, not ailments, he says.

“People are more than the sum of their ailments. Over the years there have been many attempts to replace the doctor with algorithms, machines and computers, and they have all failed.”

Dr Kruys claims general practice should be strengthened in order to improve access or multidisciplinary care; and writes that it’s a common mistake to assume that disruption is the same as innovation.

“Disruptive services – like those suggested by community pharmacists – may be simple or convenient, but the quality will be poorer,” he writes.

“A recent study showed that only three out of 32 fish oil supplements contain what the label says; I believe pharmacies should focus on evidence-based medication advice and quality control of over-the-counter drugs.”

The Australian Self-Medication Industry queried the study last week, stating that recent studies of fish oil products available in Australia, one conducted by the CSIRO,  found close agreement between the ingredients listed on the label of the products they tested and the actual composition of those products.

He also accused pharmacy of having a conflict of interest.

“A question we should ask is: Can the person who is selling the drugs give independent health advice?” he writes.

“Pharmacies face reduced profits because the Government has set lower prices for generic medications under the price disclosure arrangements.

“Although it is understandable pharmacies are looking for other income streams, it is unlikely that the proposal by the Pharmacist Guild is a win-win solution.

“Playing doctor may be good for the pharmacist and possibly for the health budget in the short-term, but not for the health of Australians. It will hinder GPs in the effective delivery of care and will eventually increase costs.”

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