However, the move will reignite a fierce battle with doctors as the Australian Medical Association argues it is dangerous to allow pharmacists to prescribe drugs directly to patients because they could have a conflict of interest.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the reforms were seen as “business as usual” in other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.
“I have no doubt that it will work, but it is still being done gently and sensibly for the benefit of the patients through a trial.”
Pharmacy Guild branch president David Heffernan said pharmacists’ role in providing COVID-19 vaccinations during the pandemic had shown they had the training, capacity and skills to expand their services.
“This is a great outcome for patients across NSW who often struggle to get timely, adequate healthcare for everyday ailments.”
In October, the Queensland government announced it would allow pharmacists to prescribe uncomplicated urinary tract infections after an 18-month trial of the system, and conduct a trial with pharmacists diagnosing other conditions.
The chairman of the Australian Medical Association, Professor Stephen Robson, said such arrangements would fragment patient care and lead to negative health outcomes.
“This is a model that promotes pharmacy profit at the expense of patient safety,” he said in a statement Friday.
Hazzard said the state health official, Dr. Kerry Chant, had worked with the association on the reforms, but “in the end it’s about making sure patients get the treatment they need”.
“General practitioners obviously have the right to have patients come back to them at various appropriate times to get a holistic view of what is going on with the patient.
“It’s about making sure that in those urgent situations where you can’t reach the GP, there are highly qualified pharmacists who can make sure that the right medication and/or vaccinations are available.”
NSW pharmacists can currently administer six vaccines, including COVID-19 and flu vaccines.
From Monday they can also test for Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, poliomyelitis, typhoid and zoster. Expressions of interest in the UTI study also open on Mondays.
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