‘Should pharmacists be allowed to treat patients?’

A segment on The Today Show about expanded pharmacy roles has received strong responses from pharmacy leaders

“Pharmacies want permission to treat patients,” television presenter Ita Buttrose announced in a Today Extra segment on Monday.

“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has called on the Queensland government to allow pharmacists to provide more health services including the treatment of minor ailments,” Ms Buttrose, a new co-host on the show, continued.

“They also want to be able to provide continuing prescription medicine for patients without the need for them to return to the doctor each time. Now wouldn’t that be a good idea?”

Commentator Michelle added: “I think the doctors are going to get a bit upset about it because they’re not going to get those kickbacks that they enjoy from the big pharmaceutical companies.

“But I think it could be messy. Sometimes for people’s health, getting your blood pressure taken, sometimes you need your doctor to be aware of what you’re taking and what you’re getting done.

“So I think this could be quite messy. If it’s done correctly then of course it’s going to ease the burden on the healthcare system and that’s a great thing. But I don’t know, it has to be really tightly contained I think.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” said second commentator John.

“But it’s not an all-or-nothing solution. I think we have to isolate the things that pharmacies or pharmacists can take from general practice and do competently and professionally.

“Things like vaccinations, things like blood pressure, where you don’t have to go running to the GP every time to then get sent to the pharmacist.”

Pharmacy leaders have responded to the segment on social media.

“Pharmacists already ‘treat’ patients for a variety of health complaints and assistance in managing medicines,” said PSA President Dr Shane Jackson on Twitter.

“Using pharmacists to their full scope makes sense.

“But references to Drs getting ‘kickbacks’ from big pharma is wrong and unfair.”

Pharmacy Guild President (Victoria branch) Anthony Tassone responded as well.

“‘Calls for pharmacies to be able to treat patients’. We already do!” said Mr Tassone on Twitter.

“We already work closely at grassroots with GPs as part of team.

“Qld inquiry is opportunity to assess how community pharmacy and pharmacists can be better utilised in helping deliver primary care for patient benefit.”

The idea received mixed responses from the general community.

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