GPs ramp up lobby against Qld pharmacy trial


man holding 'no' sign

The RACGP has sent a letter to all Queensland MPs in a bid to halt the state’s pharmacist prescribing trial

The RACGP is ramping up its efforts to halt a statewide trial, announced by the Queensland Government in mid-April, whereby pharmacists would be able to provide antibiotics for acute UTIs, as well as repeat prescriptions for the oral contraceptive pill.

In a letter sent to all Queensland MPs this week, RACGP Queensland Chair Dr Bruce Willett has called for the overturning of the “shortsighted” decision made by state Health Minister Steven Miles, according to newsGP, the RACGP’s news hub.

“The safety and care of all Queenslanders matters more than convenience, which is the proposed benefit of this trial. Future generations need antibiotics that work, and we owe it to them to do all we can to ensure they are available,” Dr Willett wrote.

“At a time when the Federal Government is seeking to restrict the use of antibiotics in hospitals and primary care, Minister Miles’ decision goes against global best practice.

“Antibiotic resistance has been identified as one of the greatest threats to future human health. Already we see in our practices and in hospitals the effects of antibiotic resistant infections, colloquially known as ‘superbugs’.”

Dr Willett pointed out that Australia-wide, 20% of all UTIs are already resistant to trimethoprim – the antibiotic recommended for the pharmacy prescribing trial.

Regarding the contraceptive pill, Dr Willett said that ‘there is no such thing as ‘just a pill script’.”

“The pill is a risky medication and is no longer the first option for contraception,” he wrote.

“A prescription for the pill involves a risk assessment and health screening opportunities, including a sexually transmissible infection check, cervical screening, blood pressure check, and an opportunity to discuss new and improved contraceptives.

“A retail pharmacy cannot provide these services.”

The AMA has also slammed the trial, labelling it “dangerous” and a “fundamental corruption” of the system.

Last month it passed an urgency motion that the organisation should call for the Queensland pharmacy prescribing trial to be stopped immediately.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland branch president Trent Twomey expressed disappointment in the motion.

“I think this just shows the true colours of the AMA has being nothing more, and nothing less, than a cheap lobby group rather than a professional body,” he told the AJP.

“I’d like to ask the AMA lobby to park their biases, park their self-interest and work with the Guild and both sides of politics – because this has bipartisan support, and the pharmacy workforce is ready to do our part.”

He said that as a community pharmacist and a Guild representative he has received only positive support from patients and politicians.

“They acknowledge that the highly skilled and highly trained pharmacist workforce can do more, and should do more, to keep Queenslanders healthier and out of hospitals,” said Mr Twomey.

Meanwhile doctors commended the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard for rejecting a similar trial in NSW.

“I can see the benefit in some regional areas where patients may not be able to get to a GP,” Mr Hazzard said.

“But I’m also being strongly warned by the Ministry of Health [that] there needs to be appropriate protocols in place such that patients are getting the full checks and balances around risks and benefits that exist when they see a GP.

“There are some quite difficult and challenging clinical issues that need to be considered. My view is it would be preferable to make these decision on an Australia-wide basis, not an individual state basis.”

PSA NSW Branch president Professor Peter Carroll told the AJP that such measures were a public health issue and that pharmacists would be held to agreed professional protocols if providing three-day courses of trimethoprim (30mg daily) to women with acute UTIs without a script.

See the full newsGP article here

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