Bigger Role in Pharmacists Could Help In Mental Health Crisis

Allowing pharmacists to operate to the full extent of their training and abilities would help ease the growing pressure on General Practitioners facing a mental health epidemic amongst patients,

The latest snapshot of national trends for GP’s released by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) shows mental health and obesity are the two biggest concerns doctors have for the future – and where they want to see more government action.

The President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland Branch, Professor Trent Twomey, said the findings of the General Practice Health of the Nation 2018 report, showed psychological health concerns topped the list of GP treated healthcare conditions.

“This RACGP report shows GPs everywhere face an uphill battle in treating the number of patients who are seeking treatment for mental health issues,” Prof Twomey said.

“The quickest way to take pressure of the system and our GPs is by allowing community pharmacists to work to their full potential to treat minor conditions, administer vaccinations to children and continue to dispense medicines already prescribed, saving patients repeat visits to a doctor.

“This can only deliver a better health system and free up valuable GP time,” Prof. Twomey said.

“Expanding the role of pharmacists must be part of any genuine solution considered by all governments to make sure our health system is best placed to treat Australians and keep them healthy.”

The release of the report coincides with a Queensland Parliamentary Committee inquiry into the possible establishment of a Pharmacy Council, limited aspects of pharmacy ownership structures and expanding the role of community pharmacy.

“Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who are trusted by the communities they serve – our ownership model relies on personal trust, with pharmacists being directly accountable and liable for the services they provide. So often they are the cornerstone of their community, especially in regional and rural areas.”

In Queensland, more than 1,100 community pharmacies receive 70 million individual visits annually from patients and are the most accessed and the most accessible primary health facilities in the state.

Prof. Twomey said Queensland pharmacists had have a more restricted role than their counterparts in other States and comparable countries overseas.

“This inquiry has an opportunity to change this and deliver improved health outcomes for Queenslanders – that’s why it’s critical this inquiry looks at the facts,” he said.

Prof. Twomey said recent reports that Australians were putting off GP visits because of rising health care costs, and the General Practice Health of the Nation 2018 report confirmed it, highlighting the need for changes to the current system.

The inquiry is also looking at the transfer of pharmacy ownership which will underline the need for a more transparent model of oversight and the establishment of an independent Pharmacy Council that would bring Queensland into line with other States.

“A more transparent ownership system will prevent publicly-listed companies from putting profitability and dividends before patients and communities.

“An independent Pharmacy Council – similar to those in other States – will be able to effectively regulate community pharmacies and keep them in the hands of genuine pharmacist owners,” he said.

Mr Twomey said The Guild would continue to work with all Queensland MPs to provide the best care for all Queenslanders.

Media interviews and inquiries: Caroline Wallace – 0400 092 697

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Contact: The Guild WA

Phone: 08 6552 3300

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Page last updated 28 September 2018