Survey reveals alarming complications from UTI Pilot
Since June 2020, Queensland Health has been running the Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot – Queensland (UTI Pilot) allowing pharmacists across Queensland to provide treatment to women with a suspected UTI.
Recently, the Queensland Government has hailed the ‘success’ of the UTI Pilot as the basis for an expanded trial to occur in North Queensland allowing pharmacists to autonomously prescribe for 23 conditions from June 2022 - North Queensland Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot (NQ Pharmacy Pilot).
The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) managed the UTI Pilot’s implementation and evaluation and provided a research study to Queensland Health.
However, this information is not publicly available.
In the absence of any available data, reporting or evaluation of the UTI Pilot, AMA Queensland invited doctors across the state to report on their experiences with patients treated under the pilot.
The survey ran from 18 to 28 March 2022 and also sought doctors’ views on the expanded NQ Pharmacy Pilot. More than 1,300 responses were received with an alarming 240 patient complications reported because of the UTI Pilot.
One in five GPs and one in eight of all doctors who responded – including emergency doctors and oncologists - reported seeing at least one patient complication.
Most commonly, complications included sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but also cancerous conditions and pregnancies.
Patients were sold antibiotics that were not only inappropriate but also dangerous.
At least six pregnant women were sold antibiotics unsafe in the first trimester and one woman had a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
Doctors hold grave concerns about NQ Pharmacy Pilot with 96% concerned about patient safety, 87% believe it will fragment healthcare, and 85% worried about over prescribing.
More than one-third of respondents had an undergraduate health or science qualification before entering medicine, including 39 who were pharmacists.
All pharmacy-trained doctors who responded to the survey, said the proposed 120 hours of online training for pharmacists taking part in the NQ Pharmacy Pilot, was not enough.
It has been suggested the NQ Pharmacy Pilot will address workforce shortages in the region but 50% of GPs said the pilot would deter them from working in North Queensland.
Pharmacists are experts in medications and provide a critical safeguard over prescriptions, picking up potential errors or unintended adverse impacts.
That is why prescribing and dispensing are separated by federal legislation – to ensure the checks and balances are there to protect patients and enhance the health of our communities.
Innovation and a commitment to continuous improvement are essential to delivering high quality healthcare but the UTI Pilot and proposed NQ Pharmacy Pilot are not improvements.
These pilots are an erosion of healthcare standards and pose dangerous risks to patient outcomes.
They undermine the collaborative strength, standards and expertise our current team-based healthcare system thrives on.
The North Queensland Scope of Practice Pilot must not proceed and we hope you will join us in opposition to this dangerous trial.
Talk to your Member of Parliament today and join the conversation #StopNQPharmacyTrial #PatientsOverPolitics.
Advocacy and Media
- AMA Queensland - 09/05 - Patients suffered during UTI trial
- AMA Queensland - 27/04 - PSR weighs in on NQ pharmacy trial
- AMA Federal - 03/03 - North Queensland pharmacy prescribing trial loses key support
- AMA Queensland media release - 22/02 - AMA Queensland calls for UTI trial evaluation results to be released
- 4BC News Talk - 12/02 - Debate between pharmacists and doctors
- The Courier-Mail - 11/02 - Doctors claim govt’s pharmacist diagnosis plan is illegal (Paywalled)
- 10 News First Queensland - 11/02 - Queensland Pharmacists may have the power to treat more illnesses however, there are fears patients could be misdiagnosed
- 9 News Queensland - 11/02 - GPs debate over a plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose certain illnesses
- 7 News Brisbane - 11/02 - The AMA is ramping up its plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose and treat serious conditions
- ABC Online - 11/02 - Queensland trial to allow pharmacists to diagnose and prescribe medication alarms doctors
- 7 News Queensland - 11/02 - Nth Qld pharmacy trial has doctors worried
- ABC Australia Wide - 11/02 - Doctors alarmed by trial to allow pharmacists to diagnose and prescribe medication
- Cairns Post - 11/02 - North Queensland Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot trial raises concerns (Paywalled)
- Australia Doctor - 11/02 - GP groups quit 'unsafe' Queensland pharmacy pilot
- RACGP - 11/02 - RACGP resigns from pharmacy trial steering committee
- Brisbane Times - 11/02 - Queensland pharmacies hoping for fresh front
- 4BC News Talk - 11/02 - GPs and pharmacists debate over North Qld trial
- 6PR News Talk - 11/02 - Pharmacists to prescribe medication
- Daily Mail Australia - 11/02 - Plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose and treat serious conditions in remote indigenous communities
- AMA Queensland media release - 11/02 - Pharmacy trial no cure for workforce shortage
- AMA and AMA Queensland media release - 28/01 - Pilot will deliver second-rate health
In February 2022, it was revealed the Queensland Government and the Pharmacy Guild were planning a trial in North Queensland allowing pharmacists to autonomously diagnose and prescribe medications.
Let your local Member of Parliament (MP) know how you feel about this dangerous trial. Send a letter and arrange a meeting where you can urge them to stop the North Queensland pharmacy trial. We want our Parliamentarians and all levels of government to work collaboratively with doctors to deliver equal access to world-class medical care without putting Queenslanders at risk.
Read our tips on how to engage with your local MP and download these letter guides to help you connect with your MP.
- How to engage your local MPforward
- Download MP letter guide for GPsget_app
- Download MP letter guide
for other specialists and doctorsget_app
- Download Federal MP letter guide
for doctors in trainingget_app
You can also write directly to the Premier and Queensland Health Minister.
Together we can stop this dangerous trial that threatens the safety of our patients.