Media release

Questions remain over pharmacy prescribing pilot

The pharmacy prescribing trial in North Queensland has started without the promised education campaign for patients and doctors.

The Queensland Government has failed to provide a promised education package ahead of the start of its ill-conceived and risky pilot allowing pharmacists to diagnose and sell drugs with no medical oversight.

“While we are disappointed the Government is pushing ahead with this experiment with Queenslanders’ health, we were assured communication materials would be sent to GPs, emergency department doctors and key health organisations before the pilot commenced,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.

“This has not occurred.

“Queensland Health must notify all doctors, regardless of specialty or location, about the full details of the pilot and how they can report associated patient harms.

“Patients must be informed they are taking part in a trial and be given clear information as to how to report any adverse effects and how to seek help.

“We have repeatedly expressed our alarm at the Government’s doggedness in establishing and then expanding this experiment as part of a secret election commitment made four years ago.

“Doctors tell us their local pharmacy colleagues do not seem willing to risk treating patients under the pilot, given the inherent patient safety issues and the fact pharmacists are also run off their feet with existing workloads.

“This appears likely given only 10 of Queensland’s 7,000 pharmacists across the state are taking part.

“Instead of grasping for short-sighted, band-aid solutions to our health workforce crisis the Government must invest in more medical student placements, training pathways and GP training.

“The Government should be supporting pharmacists who want to become GPs to study medicine.

“We have offered to conduct a joint PhD research project with Queensland Health to analyse doctors’ scope of practice to identify which tasks can be safely performed by other health professionals to free up doctors to spend maximal time working at the top of their scope.

“We will continue to call out the dangers of this pilot and encourage all AMA Queensland members to report patient harms through the Department’s feedback mechanism and their local State MPs.

“Our patients deserve better and must be protected from this and similarly reckless initiatives.”

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