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Allowing pharmacists to issue repeat prescriptions will save consumers time and money

Photo: Fiery pharmacist prescription debate in WA
The Australian Health Care Reform Alliance says letting pharmacists issue repeat prescriptions will save consumers time and money, but doctors remain opposed.

A proposal to allow pharmacists to issue repeat prescriptions should be backed as consumers will save time and money, the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance says.

Doctors in Western Australia are fiercely campaigning against a push by pharmacists to let them prescribe medications for chronic, ongoing illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.

The proposal was included in a recently published WA health department report, which also recommended the state government acknowledge pharmacists were potentially being under-used.
Australian Health Care Reform Alliance chair Jennifer Doggett said pharmacists should indeed be put to greater use.

Most countries around the world allowed them to issue repeat prescriptions, but Australia lagged behind, she said.

"Consumers do a lot of unnecessary running around," Ms Doggett told AAP on Monday.

"An extra trip for people who are old with health conditions - that's significant."

Ms Doggett said administering flu shots was a prime example of using pharmacists to deliver huge health benefits to the community and free up doctors, whose expertise could be better used.

"With our ageing population and greater need for care for chronic and complex conditions, we need to make sure we use all available resources to their full potential," she said.

"We should be saving the difficult stuff for doctors."

Newly-appointed Australian Medical Association (WA) president Andrew Miller immediately come out swinging against the proposal and another in the report for pharmacists to support mental health care.

"Pharmacists are highly trained for dispensing drugs. They have no pathology, diagnostics, mental health cred & they cant examine patients," Dr Miller tweeted.

"Stop selling useless pseudo science vitamins if (you) want to help people. This is a grab for $$."

Ms Doggett agreed it was concerning pharmacists pushed products "that don't work", such as herbal offerings.

But that was a separate, bigger issue and it was out of self interest the highly conservative AMA was getting worked up about preserving "archaic" health care delineations.

"They don't need to worry their role will be undermined," she said.

"Pharmacists will in no way replace doctors. But some tasks can be done by pharmacists."

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia was also outraged by the proposals, saying they would put patient safety at risk.

"Just because you dispense the drugs, doesn't mean you have the skills, knowledge and experience to underpin prescribing and delivering the care," WA president Andrew Kirke said.

Amid the debate, Michael McGrady told 6PR radio a pharmacist injected him in the back when he went for a flu jab and he awoke that night having convulsions.

"He actually caused some nerve damage," Mr McGrady said.

He said he suffers ongoing vertigo, which doctors advised could last years.


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