GPs and pharmacists fight it out

Article published 26 September 2019

GPs and pharmacists fight it out

DOCTORS wanting to be pharmacists and pharmacists wanting to be doctors, that’s the turf war currently exercising minds at the Pharmacy Guild and the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

The Pharmacy Guild has suggested that pharmacists should be able to give vaccinations and provide medical consultations and, very importantly, be paid under Medicare for doing so.

The AMA has countered by saying that pharmacists don’t have the skills and experience to do this.

The AMA also said that GPs should be able to run a pharmacy alongside their practice.

The latter suggestion has thrown the Pharmacy Guild in a tizz. One of the main concerns of the Pharmacy Guild is to protect its members from competition. If GPs were allowed to own and operate pharmacies, the Guild thundered, they would have a conflict of interest and over-prescribe.

Arguably, simple vaccinations and medical consultations by pharmacists would benefit health consumers in rural and regional areas, particularly in those areas where GPs are scarce. Also arguably, this wouldn’t be unfair, because there’s no overall shortage of GPs in Australia. It’s just that GPs overwhelmingly are not that keen to live and work in rural and regional areas.

However, numerous inquiries have concluded that the current pharmacy rules are anti-competitive and should be overhauled.

The federal Health Minister is negotiating a new Community Pharmacy Agreement to govern the sector from mid-2020.

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