The bodies representing doctors and pharmacists are at loggerheads over a suggestion to allow pharmacists to perform more medical jobs.
The bodies representing doctors and pharmacists are at loggerheads over a suggestion to allow pharmacists to perform more medical jobs. gradyreese

Drug war: The fight over your scripts

A TURF war has broken out between Queensland's top doctor and pharmacist groups over a proposal to allow chemists to administer and prescribe medicines.

Although relationships between professionals on the ground remain strong, the Australian Medical Association of Queensland and Queensland Pharmacy Guild are at loggerheads over the idea.

A Queensland parliamentary committee is examining whether pharmacists should be able to administer more vaccines and give a month's supply of medicine without a script in an emergency.

The proposal has received widespread support from pharmacists and the Australian College of Pharmacy, who say it could reduce pressure on GPs and emergency rooms, particularly in regional communities.

Terry White CEO Anthony White and Queensland University of Technology head of clinical sciences Professor Lisa Nissen described the dispute to the parliamentary committee as a "turf war" over what each profession could do.

Pharmacists insist the proposed changes would simply allow them to perform tasks they are trained for and can do in a hospital setting but not in the community.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland president Trent Twomey said the changes could reduce pressures on GPs and hospital emergency rooms.

"There has always been strong support for pharmacists to be the first port of call for minor ailments - it's based on the trust in which pharmacists are held and on their professional and ethical standards," he said.

"We know this would also substantially reduce costs on the public health system and improve access to health care, especially in regional and remote parts of Queensland."

But doctors have urged the government against the move, warning pharmacists do not have the same training as GPs and the practice could "compromise quality and safety care".

The Australian Medical Association Queensland dubbed the proposal a "pharmacist power play".

AMAQ president Dilip Dhupelia said allowing pharmacists to issue repeat prescriptions without a doctor's script put patient health at risk.

"This is the thin edge of the wedge," Dr Dhupelia said.

"The pharmacy lobby is riding roughshod over the best interests of our patients.

"Prioritising convenience over health outcomes and letting pharmacists do what they want puts Queenslanders' health at risk."

The AMAQ, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and Rural Doctors Association of Queensland all made submissions to the parliamentary inquiry urging against expanding pharmacists' scope.

The committee is due to finalise its report on September 30. -NewsRegional



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