Doctors accuse pharmacists of planning to “plunder primary care” with 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has made no secret that one of the objectives for the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA) is for pharmacies to step up and provide a broader array of health services to their patients. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has hit back at the Guild proposing that pharmacies provide government funded cholesterol and blood pressure checks, vaccinations and non-prescription treatments for minor ailments.

The AMA President A/Prof Brian Owler claims that general practice is the home of high quality patient care and advice, and that doctors need to be providing continuous follow-up care because not all minor ailments remain minor ailments.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has also entered the debate, with its Acting National President Joe Demarte claiming that the position of the AMA is out of touch with reality and does not acknowledge the wide ranging skills of pharmacists. He has called for a “mature and evidence-informed discussion about maximising the potential of pharmacists to work with doctors and other health practitioners to meet consumer health needs, relieve the strains on the health budget and improve the health outcomes of consumers.”

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is planning to roll out the full “Discover More. Ask Your Pharmacist” campaign in mid-October, which will involve television, print and online and social media. Pharmacy services to be promoted include pain management, after hospital care, health checks and advice, and in-home care. The Guild is working with Sydney agency Jack Watts Currie to design the campaign to encourage people in need of health care to first ask their pharmacist.

A/Prof Owler has condemned the Guild in the lead up to the launch of its campaign, accusing the Guild of using primary health care “as a bargaining chip in its efforts to secure the best possible deal for pharmacy owners – not patients – under the new Community Pharmacy Agreement.”

The 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement started on 1 July 2010 and is due to expire in mid-2015.

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