It’s “like Groundhog Day” says one pharmacist, as a prominent doctor attacks pharmacy over professional services
Over the weekend, the Daily Telegraph published an article titled, What’s up Doc? Try these tricks to save money on medical services, featuring a pharmacist who said some services can be performed in community pharmacy.
Matina Karanicolas told reporter Anthony Keane that many pharmacies now offer blood pressure and blood glucose checks free of charge, as well as providing influenza and pertussis vaccination services and absence from work certificates.
“That would save a patient going to the doctor, waiting times and consult fees. You walk into a pharmacy and 15 minutes later you are gone and all you have to pay for is the vaccine,” she told the Telegraph.
“People don’t realise we do all these other services,” Mrs Karanicolas said. “Many doctors can charge $70-$80 for a 15 minute appointment. If there’s any issue we would always refer them back to the doctor.”
The article also quoted RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel, who said that Australians should not fragment their health care too much, and should contact GPs.
Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care Evan Ackermann, a frequent critic of the community pharmacy sector, tweeted a link to the article with the comment: “Pharmacy is a street shop where sales techniques are disguised and marketed as ‘health services’.”
“Pharmacy is the reason why many people are on useless and inappropriate medication,” he wrote.
Pharmacy is a street shop where sales techniques are disguised and marketed as "health services". Pharmacy is the reason why many people are on useless and inappropriate medication. https://t.co/pZiie36qrh
— Evan Ackermann (@EvanAckermann) April 22, 2018
Several members of the pharmacy profession responded to the comments.
“I would suggest you read this and attempt to provide constructive ways forward, in particular your resistance to pharmacists in general practice is a reason that patients continue to receive inappropriate medicine,” wrote PSA president Shane Jackson, linking to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s literature review on medication safety in Australia.
Other pharmacists had comments of their own:
Oh, this is what Pharmacy is! I often work in my “street shop” and suggest ways to reduce unnecessary medicines.
Sounds like I can’t pharmacy. Thank you for your refreshing and accurate insight into the profession.
— Simon O'Halloran MPS (@cdmpharmacist) April 22, 2018
The main reason people are on inappropriate medication is poor prescribing by doctors. Give pharmacists prescribing rights and medication issues will reduce I firmly believe. We are the pharmacology experts after all.
— Michael Troy (@tarmac_mick) April 22, 2018
Apparently the last time I checked…doctors prescribe, pharmacists dispense. Useless medications start with the prescriber.
— Patrick Reid (@Patwreid) April 23, 2018
In a second tweet, Dr Ackermann also referred to pharmacists as amateurs:
And a third linked to his 2016 piece in the Medical Journal of Australia, in which he argued that pharmacy-based Minor Ailments Schemes were no more than “a push by the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacy business to increase drug sales under the guise of health innovation”.
Anthony Tassone, president of the Pharmacy Guild Victorian branch, summed up pharmacy’s reaction to the tweets quite succinctly: “I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day,” he wrote.
I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, the same thing recurring. But this isn’t any comedy – this is a campaign of disrespect of Heath professional colleagues. It is time to pull the plug on this re run and take other measures
— Anthony Tassone (@A_Tass1) April 22, 2018