NSW pharmacists will soon prescribe certain medications and vaccinations. Doctors say it’ll be a ‘disaster’

Key points
  • It is hoped the 12 month trial will reduce pressure on the health system.
  • Pharmacists will be able to prescribe birth control and UTI treatments among other medications.
  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has slammed the move.
NSW residents will soon be able to get vaccinations and some treatments prescribed at their local chemist, in a move a doctors’ group called “madness”.
It mirrors a similar trial underway in Queensland, and practices in other countries such as the UK and Canada.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said it would free up other healthcare workers and give people better access to care.

“There is pressure on the health system right across the board and we want to make sure people, whether they’re in metropolitan Sydney or regional NSW, have access to the best healthcare,” he said on Sunday.

From Monday, pharmacists will be authorised to administer a wider range of vaccinations, including jabs for travel.
A 12-month trial has been announced evaluating pharmacists prescribing medications, including antibiotics for urinary tract infections, treatments for skin conditions and infections, and birth control.
Pharmacists will have to complete additional training first.

Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said it will be a “game-changer” in rural areas.

GP clinic shopfront.

The NSW government hopes the trial will free up GPs, so those who most need to see them are able to get appointments. Source: AAP / DAN HIMBRECHTS

“Our pharmacists are an integral part of our communities, and of who we are in country communities,” she said.

Ms Taylor said pharmacists were one of the most under-utilised professions in the health system.
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president Chelsea Felkai said the changes would give people better access.
“This is an important vote of confidence in pharmacists across NSW, in our skills and expertise as part of the primary healthcare team,” she said.
However, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners called the move “madness” and “a recipe for disaster”.
“This isn’t a solution for patients, this is a solution for the pharmacy lobby,” RACGP president Karen Price said.

“Pharmacists should be working as part of a team in a hospital or medical practice setting, rather than unsupervised retail spaces,” she said.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the trial would reduce pressure on hospital emergency rooms, and see general practitioners have more appointments on offer for people with more serious ailments.
“It’s a cascading benefit,” he said.
“While some in the primary care sector have firm views on the role of pharmacists, their positive contribution to the management of the pandemic has demonstrated that they are able to deliver more,” Mr Hazzard said.

Already pharmacists can administer flu and COVID-19 vaccines, but will soon be able to jab arms for protection against hepatitis A and B, polio, typhoid, shingles and Japanese encephalitis.

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