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Patients in Queensland will benefit from a ground-breaking decision of the Queensland Government to accept in principle a range of recommendations to make better use of community pharmacists’ scope of practice.

In a response tabled in State Parliament yesterday, the Queensland Government has accepted all of the recommendations of last year’s Parliamentary Committee inquiry into pharmacists’ scope of practice and the establishment of a Pharmacy Council in the State.

Among the recommendations accepted in principle was the development of options to provide low-risk emergency and repeat prescriptions (such as repeats of the contraceptive pill) and travel vaccinations through pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.

The Government response directs Queensland Health to develop, implement and evaluate a State-wide trial to provide low-risk emergency and repeat prescriptions for the contraceptive pill and for antibiotics for urinary tract infections.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia congratulates the Queensland Government on this sensible and progressive decision which will provide Queensland patients with safe and convenient access to medicines as required, under appropriate protocols which will ensure collaboration with the patient’s other health professionals including their doctor.

The Queensland Branch President of the Guild, Trent Twomey, thanked the Government and particularly the members of the Parliamentary Committee who made the recommendations. “I also want to thank the many Queensland community pharmacists who gave written and verbal submissions to the Committee, providing evidence and argument that was clearly compelling,” he said.

This a major step forward for patient care and sensible use of the community asset that is represented by highly-trained pharmacists distributed across the State in the most accessible health infrastructure of all – community pharmacies.

It has potential to bring Queensland into line with comparable jurisdictions around the world which are already making better use of community pharmacy resources. It also has potential to create a model taken up by other Australian jurisdictions.

It is not about expanding the scope into new terrain, it is about making sure we use the existing scope recognised by regulators in Australia and overseas.

More in sorrow than in anger, we expect the usual predictable naysaying from certain doctor groups, whose knee-jerk concern for their business model masquerades as concern for patient safety.

What we say to them is: recognise the potential patient benefit and convenience this represents within a safe framework, and work with pharmacists to ensure it is implemented in a collaborative and expeditious way. Put patients first, and give patients more control of their own health.

We are sure most GPs will adopt this positive approach, regardless of what their peak body may say.

The Guild also welcomes the Government’s response on matters relating to the establishment of a Queensland Pharmacy Council, and measures to ensure compliance with the Pharmacy Business Ownership Act so that the public can be confident that only pharmacists own pharmacies.

The full response of the Queensland Government can be seen here: