Topics:  ama, chemists, department of health, health assessment, pharmacy, pharmacy guild

Chemists told to back off

A LEADING Sunshine Coast doctor has criticised pharmacists for "pretending to be doctors".

The attack comes in light of the Pharmacy Guild's national proposal to offer annual health checks through pharmacies to measure weight and check blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol of patients.

A Pharmacy Guild spokesman said the proposal was being assessed by the Department of Health and hoped it would be implemented this year.

The spokesman said the proposal stipulated health checks would only be carried out at pharmacies with consultancy rooms.

"People can access health checks without having to wait as long or pay as much as visiting the doctor," he said.

The proposal said chemists would be paid $50 for a 30-minute health check consultation, costing the government $75 million.

But Australian Medical Association Queensland regional GP representative Dr Mason Stevenson said pharmacists were not qualified to perform health checks or diagnose.

"The AMA is absolutely opposed to pharmacists pretending to be doctors without the appropriate medical training, whether this be the injecting of vaccinations or the performance of health checks including pathology testing," he said. "If pharmacists pursue the goal of replacing GPs in the community, this will unfortunately unleash a turf war that is not in the interests of patients."

Dr Stevenson said if pharmacists began performing annual check-ups it would result in a fragmentation of medical care and lack of continuity of care, "where the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing".

"We need the medical and pharmacy representative bodies to improve communication with each other because we are on ultimately the same side. We both need to work professionally and collaboratively in the best interests of Australian patients.

"It is plainly obvious that that is not occurring at present and patients will suffer as a result," he said.

The Pharmacy Guild spokesman said the proposal was not about "stealing turf" from the GPs, it was about making people healthier.

"Most people are close to a pharmacy and generally don't have to wait to see a pharmacist," he said.

"Because of that, people that are neglecting their health can be involved in their health check."



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