Leader of the Nationals and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says legislation, the medical profession and wider community need to recognise pharmacists are “an increasingly critical link in the primary healthcare chain”.
Mr Walsh says in Parliament last week The Nationals spoke to the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances amendment, highlighting the importance of clear regulation changes.
He says while the party members are not medical experts, they have been turning to those who are for the best possible advice.
“There is no question in our minds that the concerns of the GP pharmacists are very real, very valid, and they need to be listened to,” Mr Walsh says.
“Our work with those in the field, at the frontline, has provided us with new, grassroots insights of the current healthcare crisis facing regional Victoria,” he says.
“At a time when GPs are backed up for weeks and months, when fewer are available to help staff smaller, local hospitals, making appointments as scare as hen’s teeth and waiting times ridiculously long, we need to include our GP pharmacists more in the system, not less, for people who don’t really need an appointment with their doctor, or take up a valuable place at emergency departments.”
Pharmacists who have spoken with The Nationals say to put it simply – “prescribing is prescribing”.
Mr Walsh says they tell him the pharmacy profession has “spent years preparing its members to prescribe safely through the Prescribing Competency Framework”.
He says they believe they have achieved that “by putting it into their professional practise standards”.
“One of them said by not calling it what it is, and using the words ‘supply without prescription’ creates the need for a whole new set of unnecessary guidelines and even then they will not ensure pharmacists are held to the same standards as all other prescribers,” Mr Walsh added.
“Why are we reinventing the wheel here?”
“Traditionally the pharmacist has played a key, and significant, role in family health care,” he says.
“And our GPs, now under siege from demand and not enough staff, and our hospitals, handcuffed by the Andrews Labor government leading Victoria into bankruptcy, are fast making the system unworkable, so embracing the options pharmacists provide offers the chance to free up GPs for more important work.”