UTI program now permanent in Qld

12 October 2022

The permanent continuation from 1 October of community pharmacists being able to diagnose and treat women suffering from a non-complex urinary tract infection (UTI) in Queensland was “a historic day for women’s healthcare in Queensland,” Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch President, Mr Chris Owen, said.

“Credit where credit is due, the Palaszczuk Labor Government took best practice healthcare from other OECD nations, piloted it in Queensland, had it evaluated by the Queensland University of Technology, and the university found that 6,513 women could be safely and effectively treated by a community pharmacist,” Mr Owen said.

“Important advancements in women’s healthcare will not come around by accident; it takes detailed planning, robust evaluation and safety frameworks and courage on behalf of Ministers and Governments to implement. The Government should be applauded for their efforts to systematically reform health services in Queensland to give patients great choice and access to world-class services. Community pharmacists are proud to be at the forefront of advances in women’s health.

“From 1 October 2022, women are able to access the urinary tract infection (UTI) health service — permanently — through their local participating community pharmacy. This means women won’t have to suffer the painful symptoms of a UTI while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or visiting an emergency department.”

The permanency of the Community Pharmacy UTI health service follows the successful Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot – Queensland (UTIPP-Q). Commissioned by Queensland Health, the UTIPP-Q was subject to a robust evaluation of its effectiveness with the review undertaken by independent experts at the Queensland University of Technology.

The independent review, now made public, found that the service was of significant value because of improved accessibility to primary healthcare services, was convenient, and, most importantly, the treatment provided resolved women’s symptoms in 87 per cent of cases. Patients were happy with the service, would use it again and recommend it to others.

The independent review also concluded that “pharmacists have delivered safe and appropriate care that align to clinical protocols” and that “pharmacists have the appropriate skills, competencies and training to manage the empiric treatment of uncomplicated UTIs in the community pharmacy.

More than 820 Queensland community pharmacies participated in the pilot and nearly 9,500 women have accessed the UTI service since its inception. This is clear evidence this service is in demand and provides positive health outcomes.

“Statistics show that 50 per cent of Australian women experience a UTI in their lifetime. Women who don’t have access to a GP clinic or cannot book an appointment are able to access safe, effective and convenient care at their community pharmacy for uncomplicated UTIs,” Mr Owen said.

“We know from experience the sooner a UTI is diagnosed and treated, the less likely the patient is to experience further complications that may result in hospitalisation. It is estimated that through the pilot, almost 1,000 emergency department presentations were prevented by having this service available.

“It’s now time for other Australian States and Territories to follow the leadership shown by the Palaszczuk Labor Government in recognising the scope of community pharmacists and providing the same UTI service for women across Australia.

“These services are being offered in line with what is occurring in other OECD countries, such as England, Wales, New Zealand and Canada. There is more community pharmacists can do to diagnose and treat everyday health conditions, taking pressure off doctor appointments and emergency departments.”

Queensland women can visit findapharmacy.com.au/UTI to find their local community pharmacy providing the UTI health service

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Page last updated on: 23 November 2022