Queensland pharmacy scope extension triggers fight with doctors

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The acrimony surrounding changes to the scope of practice is evident in the AMA's response to the Queensland government's decision to expand a pharmacy vaccine and prescribing pilot statewide.

Earlier this week, Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman announced the statewide expansion of the North Queensland Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot that was initially planned to be implemented from Mackay to the Torres Strait.

Participating pharmacists will be able to prescribe medicines for contraception, asthma, nausea, nasal congestion and runny nose medication, mild skin condition treatments, some heart disease risk reduction, and smoking cessation.

The decision, which Minister Fentiman attributed to the challenges facing patients wanting to access general practice, was welcomed by the Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

However, the AMA criticised the decision, saying no medical groups were notified of the announcement. 

"The Royal Australian College of General Practice, the Australian Medical Association, and AMA Queensland were not consulted about the expansion, despite taking part in good faith discussions about the NQ pilot," said the AMA in a statement.

“The process has been secretive, not based in evidence, rushed and dangerous since the start," said AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins also criticised the announcement.

“The state government has decided to ignore nationally agreed processes established to ensure safe and appropriate prescribing, as well as decisions made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA),” said Dr Higgins.