Health Minister Mark Butler has welcomed a trial allowing pharmacists to prescribe the contraceptive pill as an innovative solution to address health care constraints.
If re-elected in March, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has promised a $5 million trial to allow pharmacists to renew prescriptions for the contraceptive pill and prescribe medication for urinary tract infections.
But Royal Australian College of General Practitioners vice-president Bruce Willett told AAP the proposal was a «band-aid solution».
Mr Butler said states were finding innovative ways to use the skills of health care workers as much as possible to help ease pressure on Medicare system.
«At a time when the country’s got skyrocketing demand for good health care and a constrained supply of workers, it doesn’t make sense not to have everyone operating to the full extent of their skills and training,» he told ABC Radio Perth.
«I’m very keen to see these trials continue and to build an evidence base for using our health workforce smarter and more effectively.»
Dr Willett said pharmacies also faced staff shortages and there wouldn’t be the workforce to help ease the pressure the health minister spoke about.
He was also concerned about patients accessing the best contraceptive option for them.
«We think this is a retrograde step for the health of women,» he said.
«The current standard of care is long-acting reversible contraceptives and none of those would be able to be prescribed by a pharmacist.
«Because pharmacists won’t have access to those other forms of contraception we are concerned patients won’t have access to or even be made aware of those options.»
Australian Medical Association vice-president Danielle McMullen said she was «really disappointed» with the announcement.
She said the medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), last year reviewed the contraceptive pill and decided to keep it a prescription-only medicine.
«We are hugely disappointed that Premier Perrottet has taken the decision to sideline the TGA and take shortcuts on women’s health,» Dr McMullen told Nine’s Today Show.
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