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Tasmanian Government Unveils Historic Pharmacist Prescribing Program To Boost Healthcare Access

The Tasmanian government is set to launch a groundbreaking program that allows pharmacists the authority to prescribe medications under certain conditions.

This initiative aims to enhance healthcare accessibility for Tasmanians living in remote areas and aged care homes.

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Tasmania’s Health Minister, Guy Barnett, emphasised the focus on individuals struggling to access primary care, particularly those residing in rural and regional areas. 

Under the proposed changes, General practitioners (GPs) would continue to diagnose patients and establish treatment plans. 

“We know many GPs spend valuable time reissuing prescriptions for residents, rather than spending that time addressing residents emerging health needs,” Minister Barnett said.

“I am confident that pharmacists working collaboratively with GPs and prescribing within the safeguards of a treatment plan approved by the GP will significantly improve patient care.”

He said the government will continue to work with pharmacy, medical, and residential aged care facility representative groups as they pilot this “national-leading change”.

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This collaborative approach is intended to streamline healthcare delivery, reduce patient travel and wait times, and ensure timely access to necessary medications for residents of aged care homes. 

The government will also permit pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for women experiencing uncomplicated urinary tract infections.

While pharmacists have welcomed the initiative as a valuable opportunity to improve healthcare access, some doctors have expressed different opinions.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmanian president, GP John Saul, called for more detailed information on the pilot program.

“At least this will strengthen the arrangement, and collaboration between good quality community pharmacists and local GPs has a lot of merit and a lot of benefits,” Dr Saul told ABC news.

“There’s a real risk…that we’re not treating urinary tract infections, we’re just treating the symptoms.”

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