Allied health practitioners such as pharmacy need to be given more support to step up and fill gaps in health care, says Terry White – because an expansion in their role is inevitable.
He says he’s pleased to see pharmacy already taking on board more professional services, including providing vaccination services, but that allied health should have the support of doctor groups.
The first manifestation of an extended scope of practice is the vaccination program, he says.
“Most state jurisdictions have either dealt with this, or dealing with it’s underway. We did the trial up here in Queensland last year, and this is a great statement for pharmacy, moving forward: this is a starting point.
“Having said that, there’s inevitably the reaction from the Australian Medical Association, which is disappointing.
“It’s going to happen. At the end of the day, GPs are the centrepiece of primary health care – GPs are absolutely critical, and they need to do the heavy lifting, the serious stuff, and let pharmacists and nurses get on with taking the pressure off them.”
He expects more downscheduling in the near future – and says, “our Terry White Express stores will be ready to fill that niche – as indeed, all pharmacies should be.”
White says that he was also disappointed that new Health Minister Sussan Ley had spoken about Medicare and the PBS being out of control.
“The PBS is under control, and pharmacy played a significant role in that by cooperating with governments, no fuss,” he says. “Pharmacists are practical people.
“Medical and hospital, that’s where the Government have their problems. The cost of hospitalisation is huge.
“This is where there’s a key role to play for pharmacists in prevention: engaging with the rest of health so that we can do something about lessening the number of people going to hospitals who should be looked after in the community.”
He says that while Medicare Locals have been a “mixed grill,” with some performing highly and others less so, he has high hopes for the Primary Health Care Network concept.
“I’m encouraged by it, and the work that can be done, working more closely with allied health care and hospitals.
“We have to keep people out of hospitals – the nation can’t afford it!”