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You cannot substitute a pharmacist for a GP - AMA Victoria strongly opposes recommendations to expand the role of pharmacists

Tuesday 14 October 2014

AMA Victoria strongly opposes recommendations to expand pharmacists’ role to include providing vaccinations, treating minor ailments and screening for chronic diseases. You cannot substitute for a doctor – and that is exactly what task substitution is.

We will fight against the implementation of the following recommendations

1. That the Department of Health establish a pharmacy immunisation trial targeting adults and ideally commencing in time for the 2015 influenza season.

2. That the Department of Health work with the Commonwealth Government and health care providers to pilot a minor ailments scheme in rural Victoria for selected and suitably trained community pharmacists.

7. That the Victorian Government consider piloting an evidence based chronic disease screening and management program in selected community pharmacies, including a formal requirement for communication between pharmacists and the patients’ general practitioners.

“You cannot offer a lesser standard of care without putting the patient at risk. You cannot trade-off the health of Victorians against a false perception of cost-reduction,” AMA Victoria President, Dr Tony Bartone said this afternoon.

“The AMA opposes task substitution because we cannot and will not support decisions which compromise the health care of our patients. Any decision which seeks to provide a substitute for a qualified doctor is a wrong decision.

“Doctors must remain at the centre of care - not as a second opinion,” Dr Bartone said.

Furthermore, it was disappointing to see recommendation 9, which fails to address the major issue that encapsulates the misuse of pharmaceutical medication, addiction and “doctor shopping”.

9. The Victorian Government and pharmacy peak bodies jointly develop a program which helps community pharmacies support people with a dependence on over‐the‐counter analgesics containing codeine and/or prescription narcotics.

AMA Victoria and many other health bodies have for years continuously called on the Government to implement a real-time prescription monitoring system so doctors and pharmacists knows if a patients has already been prescribed and dispensed their medication. Recommendation 9 is a short cut that won’t stop this issue.

“More Victorians die each year from overdosing on pharmaceutical drugs than in car crashes. The Government worked hard to get the road toll down but is taking the easy route when it comes to stopping pharmaceutical addiction and overdoses. They must act. And the only way to combat this is through implementing the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD) system,” Dr Bartone said.

The Victorian Coroners Court had shown that in 2012, 304 Victorians died from prescription drug overdose, more than the state’s road toll of 282.

Media contact
Felicity Ryan
Australian Medical Association Victoria
Mobile: 0437 450 506

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