‘Out of touch’

man holding 'no' sign

Doctor slams AMA for its outrage over the proposed pharmacy pain trial

Last week Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a $20 million trial program to help people suffering chronic pain, to be run through community pharmacies.

The Pain MedsCheck trial will see pharmacists evaluating patients’ medicines, analgesic use and pain management program in a face-to-face consultation.

President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Michael Gannon, reacted angrily to the announcement, claiming it was a “slap in the face for GPs, the real community health experts”.

Meanwhile a medical doctor and researcher has slammed Dr Gannon’s response in an opinion piece published in The Australian, calling for an end to the “antediluvian” turf war between doctors and pharmacists.

“We didn’t need another demonstration of how out of touch the Australian Medical Association is with the broader medical profession and the society it serves – but we got one anyway,” writes Dr Jessica Borbasi, a Research Associate at The Centre for Independent Studies.

“When it comes to demarcation disputes between GPs and other health professionals — to say nothing of long overdue real reform that could have immediate benefits for thousands of patients navigating an archaic industry — special pleading about injustice is the AMA’s stock standard response.”

Dr Borbasi highlights that most deaths from the alleged opioid crisis actually come from abuse of prescription medications, and says pharmacists are “invaluable” in treating chronic pain and disease.

She suggests a team-based approach, where doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals work together towards the health outcomes of an individual over time.

“As every hospital doctor attending daily multidisciplinary team meetings knows, pharmacists are invaluable, and chronic diseases need a team approach.

“This radical concept of a team of health professionals providing value-based care over time and being more accountable for the health outcomes of a patient with chronic disease is constantly opposed by the AMA with scaremongering about the end of ‘free’ bulk-billed GP visits,” writes Dr Borbasi.

“If the AMA won’t allow us to address the structural problems in the health system — and cries foul in the ‘Mediscare’ context every time a new idea is proposed — then enabling other health professionals to take on some of the burden should be supported.”

President of the PSA Dr Shane Jackson welcomed the piece, tweeting that it was “a reminder to work together, remove perceptions of ‘turf’ and focus on better patient care”.

Read the full piece here.

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1 Comment

  1. Harriet Wright

    What a breath of fresh air! It would be so nice to see more working together to help patients rather than turf wars over who gets to treat them.

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