GP-pharmacist relationships improving


But one third of pharmacists still believe GPs think their primary job is just to supply medications, according to new report

More pharmacists are reporting a positive working relationship with their main prescribing GP, according to the 2018 UTS Pharmacy Barometer released on Tuesday.

The number of pharmacists reporting a “very good” relationship with their local GP has almost doubled in the past few years – from 30% in 2016 to 57% in 2018.

A further 34% said they had a “good” relationship with their local GP.

The report surveyed 361 pharmacists with the sample being representative of the Australian community pharmacy sector.

Of these, 301 (83%) were owners, owner-managers, pharmacists-in-charge or pharmacy managers, with the remaining 17% being employee pharmacists.

No pharmacists reported having a “poor” or “very poor” relationship with their local GP, while 8% reported having a “neutral” relationship.

“By and large pharmacists are getting on well with their local GP,” commented PSA director and past president Warwick Plunkett.

However the frequency of communication between pharmacists and GPs was low.

On average, pharmacies reported dispensing 1,067 PBS items per week and contacting the local GP approximately 11.7 times per week.

UTS Adjunct Professor John Montgomery said, “The number of GP contacts per week as a proportion of the items dispensed seems low at about 1%.”

“With such positive relationships, how do we increase the interaction between pharmacist and GP?” questioned Professor Kylie Williams, Head of Pharmacy at UTS.

Most pharmacists identified that their opinion and expertise as a pharmacist was well respected by GPs.

An overwhelming 84% of pharmacists highlighted that GPs made changes to their prescribing as a result of the interaction they had with a pharmacist (64% agreeing and 20% strongly agreeing).

There was strong agreement from pharmacists that GPs accept their role as a medication expert (55% agree, 17.5% strongly agree) and accept their clinical recommendations (60% agree, 17% strongly agree).

“This represents a good basis for further collaboration,” said Adjunct Professor Montgomery.

A significant one third of pharmacists believe GPs think their primary job is just to supply medications, while 36% disagreed with this statement, 4% strongly disagreed, and nearly a third were neutral.

Meanwhile 38% of pharmacists agreed or strongly agreed that GPs appear to be increasingly involving pharmacists in the decision-making process about the medications they prescribe.

A further 30% remained neutral on the topic.

“There are pharmacists who feel that GPs are really not looking to them for clinical recommendations, rather just to supply the medicines,” said Professor Williams.

However overall, “there is a general belief by pharmacists that GPs collaborate well with them and accept their clinical decisions,” said Mr Plunkett.

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