‘We have no intention in changing the rules.’


pharmacy worker reading newspaper

A Fairfax article has claimed the Health Minister is considering “supervised prescribing” by pharmacists – but the Minister denies it’s true

A report appearing in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age stated that Greg Hunt is considering the move in a bid to take some off the pressure off components of the health system, including GPs.

It follows the release earlier this week of the Pharmacy Board’s position statement on pharmacist prescribing, in which it concluded that under Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, there were “no regulatory barriers in place for pharmacists to be able to prescribe… within a collaborative healthcare environment, via a structured prescribing arrangement or under supervision”.

The Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia both welcomed the release of the statement, as did the Australian Medical Association, on the grounds that the Board had not come down on the side of autonomous prescribing by pharmacists.

“Mr Hunt told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he had directed the Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, to examine the proposal, a move which comes as the powerful Pharmacy Guild continues to push for unsupervised prescribing of common medications like the contraceptive pill and travel vaccinations,” reporter Dana McCauley wrote.

She wrote that Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis said that pharmacist prescribing “has to be autonomous,” thus, without supervision from doctors.

Ms McCauley also spoke to AMA ethics committee chair Dr Chris Moy, who said that the AMA supports doctor-supervised prescribing by pharmacists, but only if pharmacists followed doctors’ instructions.

Minister Hunt has since responded to the article on Twitter, pointing out an error.

“SMH article incorrect,” Mr Hunt said. “I stated yesterday we have ‘No Plans’ to change prescribing rules – Inexplicably omitted from article.”

“Groups are entitled to put positions & we will review them.

“But our position is clear, we have no intention in changing the rules.”

As pharmacist Samuel Keitaanpaa pointed out, this is a state/territory matter at any rate.

The RACGP’s Dr Harry Nespolon has also responded to the Board’s statement in newsGP.

“It seems odd to ask pharmacists whether they should be prescribing – the not surprising answer was yes,” he told that publication.
 
“This is a solution looking for a problem. Is there any evidence that patients are missing out on medication? If so, removing the geographical location rules [on pharmacy ownership] would fix the problem.”

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