Title Pharmacy-led study promotes minor ailments scheme Degree of recognition National Media name/outlet News GP Media type Web Country/Territory Australia Date 18/11/19 Description The initiative would see some people transferred from GPs to community pharmacies as early as next year.
However, Associate Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC), told newsGP it is important to consider exactly where the suggested $1.3 billion in savings would come from.
‘Interpreting this study requires care. The study selected 15 pharmacies [24 patients each] to provide the minor ailments scheme and 15 pharmacies to provide usual care. It was not a study to compare pharmacy care to GP care,’ he said.
‘What are the consequences? Will services to patients actually be reduced as a consequence of practices closing in marginal areas?
‘Overseas experiences demonstrate that minor ailments schemes struggle even in countries where there is greatly reduced access to general practice; such as the UK, where there are far more patients per GP.
‘The repeated history of schemes attempting to substitute general practice is that they look cheaper on first glance but end up being false economies.’
Associate Professor Morgan also said pharmacies have ‘an inherent conflict of interest’ insofar as they need to sell products to survive.
‘Who pays in the end? The patient does,’ he said.
‘In the study the most common presentation was respiratory and 84% of patients were supplied at least one non-prescription medicine, mostly cough mixture or cold remedies.
‘Pharmacy shelves are stocked with substances that are very low value. Supplements, homeopathy, children’s cough mixtures are generally unnecessary – but they are sold to unsuspecting customers.
‘I would much rather see the interventions recommended in the Handbook of Non-Drug Interventions [HANDI] used. For example, honey for children’s cough, exercise for low-back pain, and diluted apple juice for rehydration in children.’
Producer/Author Matt Woodley, RACGP Persons Mark Morgan