‘The outcome is a foregone conclusion,’ says RACGP

woman on toilet

The RACGP has attacked the Pharmacy Guild over the Queensland UTI pharmacist prescribing trial

Earlier this week, Queensland University of Technology announced that its pharmacy Professor Lisa Nissen would lead the UTI Pharmacy Pilot – Queensland, working with a group of researchers and Queensland Health.

Prof Nissen said the group’s aim was “for community pharmacists to provide optimal care to women presenting with symptoms of an uncomplicated UTI who meet strict inclusion criteria”.

She said the Queensland pilot will follow a number of models of care for treating simple UTIs, out of Canada, the UK and New Zealand, allowing pharmacists to supply antibiotics to patients with these conditions.

RACGP publication newsGP wrote that Dr Bruce Willett, the organisation’s chair, responded “after it was revealed that Pharmacy Guild researchers will be involved in the UTI pharmacy prescribing trial, expected to launch mid-year”.

Dr Willett told newsGP that this meant the Pharmacy Guild was getting what it wanted.

“Whatever the Pharmacy Guild wants, it gets – in Queensland,” he said, calling the pilot a “sham”.

“The Guild gets a foot in the door and wedges it open.

“The outcome is a foregone conclusion. The trial has been set up to not be a trial of anything,” he said.

“Antimicrobial resistance is such a huge issue. This really is an irresponsible effort to buy a few votes in a short-term move. It’s selling out the future of our access to antibiotics.
“It’s not as if pharmacists have no treatments for UTIs; there are urinary alkalinisers which should be used in the first instance. Pharmacists should be encouraging non-antibiotic options first.”

newsGP also spoke to Dr Krystyna de Lange, Chair of the RACGP’s GPs in Training Faculty, a former pharmacist who said she was concerned that pharmacists would not be able to exclude pregnancy and that diagnoses of conditions such as bladder cancer could be delayed.

“Pharmacists will argue they can follow a clinical protocol. But it’s more than just an algorithm – it’s clinical acumen and working through the differential diagnoses,” she said.

Earlier in the week, Guild state president Trent Twomey had welcomed the fact that the trial will commence in upcoming weeks, saying early access to treatment was important in simple UTIs.

“This trial will require appropriately qualified pharmacists to complete additional training to ensure safe and accurate screening, diagnosis and treatment, which may include antibiotics,” he said.

“Furthermore, community pharmacists are conveniently located with extended opening hours and no appointments necessary. This means that a women experiencing a urinary tract infection can be seen and treated immediately, to avoid further complications.”

The RACGP and AMA have been openly critical of the trial since the Queensland Government accepted it as a recommendation stemming from the 2018 Inquiry into the Establishment of a Pharmacy Council and Transfer of Pharmacy Ownership in Queensland.

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