GPs warn against expanding pharmacy prescribing pilot

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has re-iterated its concern about the North Queensland Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot in light of the Government’s announcement today of the pilot’s expansion.

Of concern is the fact that the initial North Queensland pilot, first announced early last year, had not yet begun, let alone been evaluated.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins spoke out against the expansion.

“Patient safety must come first,” she said.

“GPs value the work of pharmacists in communities around Queensland, and we back team-based models of care in which a range of healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, maximise the use of their skills. It would have made more sense to wait for the recommendations from the federal scope of practice review before expanding the pilot.”

RACGP Vice President and Queensland Chair, Dr Bruce Willett, said that the decision raises concerns about evaluation processes for health reforms.

“If a pilot is being extended before it has been started, let alone appropriately evaluated, then it does raise concerns about the importance of properly evaluating patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness in the decision-making processes,” he said.

“This pilot also creates a strong conflict of interest. Pharmacists will be writing prescriptions for various conditions, and then selling patients the medications based on their recommendations. There is a reason why we have always separated the prescribing and dispensing of medications.

“Something else that must be front of mind is the fact that Queensland is facing a severe shortage of pharmacists. The net result of this pilot is likely to be that it will be not only more difficult to see your GP, as they try and track down what the pharmacist is doing, it will also be more difficult to access your medications because many pharmacists will be busy doing other work. Healthcare reform needs to make our system safer and more efficient, we should not be pursuing a Band-Aid approach.”


/Public Release.