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Have your say: building trusting relationships between rural pharmacists and GPs amidst NSW pharmacist prescribing trial


9th October 2023

Last week, the NSW Government launched the second phase of the statewide pharmacy prescribing trial, expanding pharmacists’ prescribing powers to allow the resupply of oral contraceptives.

The 12-month trial will see more than 900 participating NSW pharmacies able to offer women a resupply of their contraceptive pill with no out-of-pocket consultation costs for the patient. This comes off the back of the urinary tract infection pharmacy prescribing trial, which saw almost 3000 women access medication from their pharmacist in the first few months of the trial.  

Health Minister Ryan Park said the trial hopes to take the pressure off GPs. 

“This initiative is not only making it easier for people to access medicines, it is also alleviating pressure on our GPs and primary care services.” 

However, some medical bodies have expressed concern over increasing pharmacist powers, saying patient safety could be at risk.  

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recently reiterated its long-held concerns around a conflation of diagnosis and prescribing skills, citing a lack of education on the behalf of pharmacists. 

In a submission to the Australian Pharmacy Council consultation into draft accreditation standards for pharmacist prescriber education programs, the RACGP said, "If pharmacists are diagnosing prior to prescribing, then pharmacists should complete the same level of training as a GP". 

"GPs complete over a decade of medical training where differential diagnosis is interwoven throughout before prescribing."

To gain a better understanding of the relationship between rural pharmacists and GPs amidst the change in prescribing powers, NSW Rural Doctors Network, together with Charles Sturt University, has received funding to undertake an important study into the relationship between the two professions.  

RDN will conduct interviews and focus groups with GPs and pharmacists to explore what helps and hinders trust between the professions, at a time when the role of the pharmacist is expanding.  

The study hopes to bring to light ways to strengthen trusting relationships between pharmacists and GPs in the provision of collaborative and interprofessional team care in rural communities and to help address rural healthcare access needs.  


For more information:

If you are interested in taking part in an interview or focus group, please contact RDN’s Knowledge Mobilisation Manager, Robyn Ramsden: rramsden@nswrdn.com.au 

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