‘The AMA has verballed the Pharmacy Guild.’


tug of war

The AMA needs to “calm down and stop jumping at shadows,” says the Guild, as the AMA Council discusses the Guild’s policy paper

The AMA’s Federal Council has discussed the Pharmacy Guild’s new paper, which was released last week, at its mid-August Canberra meeting and “reacted strongly,” according to a story in AusMed.

John Flannery and Chris Johnson write that the AMA feels the Guild’s paper “proposes pharmacists move way beyond their scope of practice to perform some specialised roles of GPs”.

AMA national president Dr Tony Bartone reportedly “denounced” the paper and “said if the Guild wants pharmacists to undertake the role of doctors then it should encourage pharmacists to first undertake 10 to 15 years of study for a medical degree”.

“Some Federal Councillors did note, however, that what the Pharmacy Guild wants is not necessarily what regular pharmacists want,” the two wrote.

Dr Bartone called the calls for pharmacists practising to full scope a “stunt” which could endanger patients.

“Patient care suffers, and health and lives are put at risk, when there is fragmentation of health care and the loss of continuity of quality health care,” Dr Bartone said.

“GPs study and train for more than a decade to provide quality holistic care for individuals and families through all stages of life.

“The Guild claims that a pharmacist’s ‘half a decade training prior to being registered’ is sufficient to practise as a doctor, with all the complexity and specialised skills and knowledge that entails. This is simply not true or possible.”

He also said the Guild’s intent with the paper was to remove focus from its “frantic lobbying” of the Federal Government in the leadup to the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement, and competition from Chemist Warehouse and “the big grocery chains”.

“I do not think that busy, dedicated community pharmacists – who work daily in a collaborative partnership with local GPs, hospitals, and other health professionals in towns and suburbs across the country – would agree with the Guild’s push for pharmacists to take over the work of doctors,” Dr Bartone said.

“The Guild should be focused on the interests of its members and individual pharmacists, not looking to make profits from usurping the roles of other health professions.”

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild said that, “The AMA has verballed the Pharmacy Guild – at no time has the Guild suggested that it ‘wants pharmacists to be doctors,’ or that pharmacist training ‘is sufficient to practise as a doctor’.

“The AMA is barking up the wrong tree.

“The policy paper issued last week—Community Pharmacies: Part of the Solution—identifies an underutilisation of Australian pharmacists and argues community pharmacists could play a greater role in our healthcare system and help improve accessibility and affordability for Australian families.

“The policy paper found pharmacists are in a unique position to relieve the stresses and strains on the health system by fulfilling their scope of practice – not by expanding it into doctor territory,” the Guild spokesperson said.

 “This would see pharmacists use their training to the full. Pharmacists playing a bigger role in the health systems overseas has seen savings for consumers and government and made care more accessible.

 “According to the policy paper pharmacists would only treat to the extent of their training and are quick to refer patients to their GP or an ED when their health issue was beyond this training.

 “Community pharmacies are the most accessible place to get health advice. It makes sense to make the most of pharmacists as part of the solution to the healthcare concerns of Australians.

“The AMA needs to calm down and stop jumping at shadows.”

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