Doctors, pharmacists in ‘turf war’ over north Queensland medical trial

A trial of a new service in north Queensland has thrown doctors and pharmacists into open conflict over claims of wrongly diagnosed pregnancies, menopause and pre-cancerous conditions.

May 10, 2022, updated May 10, 2022
Pharmacists have told InQueensland the Queensland Government has “essentially mandated” the use of GuildCare,  database owned by the Pharmacy Guild.

Pharmacists have told InQueensland the Queensland Government has “essentially mandated” the use of GuildCare, database owned by the Pharmacy Guild.

But pharmacists have fired back claiming a trial allowing pharmacists to diagnose certain conditions has become a turf war and that the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association could not be trusted. 

The Queensland Health trial allows pharmacists to diagnose and prescribe drugs for conditions including diabetes, middle ear infections and urinary tract infections.

The Australian Medical Association said 1300 responses to its survey of members showed that doctors thought the trial was dangerous. 

“Almost one in five GPs reported treating at least one patient for serious complications that were either missed or misdiagnosed under the urinary tract infection prescribing trial, which the Queensland Government says is the basis for the north Queensland pilot,’’ the AMA said.

“Complications included antibiotic allergies, missed diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancies, menopause, pre-cancerous conditions, and delayed treatment leading to kidney infections.

“These figures are truly shocking and show the urgent need for the Government to immediately halt this trial given the risks to patient safety and absence of any true evaluation of health outcomes.

“We have raised our concerns about the lack of publicly available information about the outcomes with the QUT ethics committee. 

“The Professional Services Review (PSR) has also warned that the North Queensland trial is inconsistent with Commonwealth law.’’

But the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said it was the AMAQ who needed to put patients first and stop trying to scare women.

It said the AMAQ’s internal online survey contained no actual clinical data or evidence for the hearsay allegations. 

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It said the pilot program had been safely and successfully since 2019. 

“Only after the AMAQ pulled out of another pilot did they start to bring forward unfounded allegations for their own internal political purposes.

“It must be getting close to election time at the AMAQ. Patients don’t want a turf war, they want safe and effective high-quality primary health care, but the AMAQ seems addicted to ancient turf wars instead of patient care. 

“Bizarrely, the AMAQ today claimed that men received treatment via the pilot – this is totally false. If they can’t be trusted to get even the most basic facts about the pilot correct, how can they be taken seriously with other more complicated issues? 

“In 2014, the AMAQ also claimed that pharmacists providing vaccination services would be ‘dangerous’ for patients – this is yet another example of why the AMAQ can’t be trusted. 

“The uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infection Pharmacy Pilot – Queensland continues to be a success, which is why the state government has extended the trial. 

“Pharmacists follow the same UTI protocol as doctors. As part of the protocol, if someone has unresolved symptoms 48 hours after commencing treatment, they are referred to a GP.’’

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