No ‘turf war’ AMA claims

The AMA says it is not engaging in a ‘turf war’ in its calls for pharmacy deregulation and a restriction of the extension of pharmacy professional services.

An article in AMA magazine Australian Medicine rebuffed what it said would be criticism over the group’s submission to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation.

“The AMA is often accused of engaging in a ‘turf war’ when it warns against pharmacists and other healthcare practitioners expanding their scopes of practice – for example, into prescribing,” the article claimed.

“I expect we will attract similar criticisms following our submission to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation”.

In its submission, the AMA had claimed that it supported “high-quality primary health care services that are convenient to patients, enhance patient access and improve collaboration between healthcare professionals”.

“Co-location of medical and pharmacy services would clearly facilitate this.”

The submission also stated the AMA’s view that it had “no concerns” about locating pharmacy premises within or adjacent to supermarkets, as long a registered pharmacist remains responsible for dispensing.

The AMA also restated its opposition to the expansion of pharmacy professional services, except in areas that support medication management and adherence, such as HMRs and DAAs, and programs that enhance improve rural and remote and ATSi health.

The Australian Medicine article says “our submission to the Review emphasises that the AMA fully supports pharmacists undertaking roles within their scope of practice. That means those activities and clinical services that are covered in their core education and training”.

“However, over the last few years the Pharmacy Guild has pushed for a range of pharmacy services to be funded under the CPA as an extra source of income, which represents an expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice”.

The services it listed include: prescribing Schedule 4 medicines; providing advice on nutrition, weight loss, smoking cessation, pregnancy and baby care; and managing chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes.

“If, in the future, pharmacists’ core education and training covers medical services, and pharmacists wish to have those services attract Government subsidies, then those services should be assessed for safety, efficacy and cost effectiveness in the same way as other health practitioner services. That means evaluated and funded under Medicare,” the article states.

“In the meantime, the AMA will continue to defend against profit-driven and unevaluated expanded scopes of practice”.

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  1. Jarrod McMaugh

    the fact that they felt the need to preempt accusations of turf war with a declaration that they aren’t waging a turf war speaks volumes to the integrity of their claims and the integrity of their submission.

  2. Anthony Tassone

    The Guild agrees with the AMA’s statement calling for an evidence-based approach to any change in the scope of practice for pharmacists as a reinforcement of the Guild’s current procedures.

    Such calls are aligned with the Guild’s ongoing approach.

    Contrary to what the AMA may believe, this has been the case and is the case ongoing.

    Professional services offered through community pharmacies are underpinned by empirical evidence as to their efficacy and safety. The continuing pharmacy programs from the 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement (e.g. MedsChecks, Home Medicine Reviews amongst others) are currently undergoing a cost effectiveness assessment by the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

    Calling for cost-effectiveness of programs delivered by community pharmacies is not really new news as it has been integrated as part of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

    An example of the thoroughness of a process of assessing whether a service is within the scope of practice of a pharmacist and the need for training is the recently legislated pharmacist delivered immunisations in community pharmacies.

    The Pharmacy Board deemed immunisation to be within the scope of practice of a pharmacist, but they had to undergo specific and approved training to be able to deliver this service.

    The Guild along with other pharmacy industry stakeholders worked closely in the consultation process and with the Pharmacy Board of Australia in introducing this new service to the extent that the Board issued a statement reinforcing that pharmacist-delivered vaccinations are within the scope of practice for pharmacists.

    To infer that the Guild, or any pharmacy stakeholder is working independently of competency standards or the Board’s regulatory framework under the national scheme is simply false.

    Anthony Tassone
    President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victoria Branch)

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