17 October 2018

Queensland inquiry into pharmacies will risk patient safety and care

General practitioners across Queensland have expressed dismay following recommendations made by a Parliamentary inquiry yesterday to allow pharmacists to provide so called ‘low risk’ emergency care, vaccinations and repeat prescriptions.

President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Dr Harry Nespolon said, these recommendations will put patients at risk and cause irreversible damage the health system.

“I am completely shocked at this announcement as the evidence is clear, offering primary healthcare services in a retail setting does not provide patient with the access to high quality healthcare,” Dr Nespolon said.

“When a patient receives health advice in a retail pharmacy, they miss out on crucial evidence based health services, potentially leading to a delayed diagnosis or delayed care. Our patients deserve better.

“Every consultation between a patient and their GP is an opportunity to provide holistic patient care, including the assessment of current medications and their potential removal if no longer necessary. This de-prescribing is critical to high quality prescribing and supply of medicines, ultimately improving patient health outcomes.

“At the end of the day, this announcement comes as a result of extreme lobbying by the Pharmacy Guild. Sadly, the recommendations clearly incentivises business needs over patient care, a compromise we simply can’t afford to make.  

“Pharmacies as both dispensers and prescribers represents a clear conflict of interest, especially within a commercial sales driven environment.

“Currently when a GP prescribes a medication, there are mechanisms in place to ensure that reviews regularly occur. What we see here is removing any form of check-up and monitoring of patients’ conditions.

“From the contraceptive pill to medicine for heart conditions, all medications come with side effects and without the proper monitoring of a specialist GP we put our patients at risk of long term consequences.

“I urge all parliamentarians to carefully consider the risks posed by these dangerous recommendations before it’s too late, otherwise I am fearful of the impact on patient safety,” Dr Nespolon said.

Dr Bruce Willett, Chair RACGP Queensland echoed these concerns highlighting that the proposed model will only duplicate and fragment care and waste finite health resources.

“This is the wrong solution to the problem. GPs have ongoing therapeutic relationships with their patients and are best placed to provide this care. If there are perceived access or patient convenience issues, this can be addressed through new and innovative models within the existing system. De-railing what has worked for decades will not achieve the intended outcome,” Dr Willett said.

"This goes against the calls by the entire medical profession (including the RACGP, AMA, AACRM and multiple other medical colleges) who have warned parliamentarians of the direct risks to patients posed by this proposal."

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