In February 2022, it was revealed that the Queensland Government and The Pharmacy Guild were proposing a trial in North Queensland to allow pharmacists to autonomously diagnose and prescribe medications for 23 serious medical conditions, without any collaboration with doctors.
Pharmacists play a vital role in community healthcare in partnership with doctors and other allied health professionals, all working at the peak of their skills and expertise. This proposed trial will threaten the safety of our patients, increase the fragmentation of healthcare, exacerbate workforce shortages and add further pressure to hospital emergency departments and surgery wait lists.
Here are our key issues with the North Queensland Scope of Practice Pilot.
Risks to patient safety with pharmacists working outside of their expertise
- The range of serious conditions covered by this pilot are well outside the scope of pharmacist expertise and present serious risks to patient health and complex legal ramifications for any health professional involved.
- GPs train for 12 years to diagnose conditions. Pharmacists train for four years in dispensing appropriate medications. Just 120 hours of extra online training leaves pharmacists and patients at risk.
- Potential misdiagnosis and inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics will lead to increased anti-microbial resistance and super bugs.
Increased costs to patients
- This is a ‘no cost’ proposal for the Queensland and Federal Governments but the costs will be paid by patients, directly to pharmacists.
Conflict of interest
- There are serious conflicts of interest where pharmacists both prescribe and sell medications to patients that may place unintended bias and pressure to prioritise profits rather than patient care.
Exacerbate workforce shortages and hospital pressures
- This pilot does nothing to address the shortages of GPs in regional and Indigenous communities.
- It will further fragment healthcare and exacerbate emergency department ramping, hospital bed block and surgery wait lists, as doctors will need to treat sicker patients with more advanced illnesses in the hospital system.
No scientific evidence to support the delivery of high quality patient care
- The evaluation of the urinary tract infection (UTI) pharmacist prescribing trial are said to provide evidence to support this new plan for North Queensland. No meaningful data or evaluation has been published that shows overall patient health and safety were delivered and underlying medical conditions were properly treated. This is a precarious foundation to extend a trial and places unacceptable risk on patient health and safety.
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.
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.