As health system pressures bite, a bitter divide over this key issue grows

Pharmacists in Australia are being given greater prescribing powers, with trials allowing them to prescribe antibiotics and contraceptive pills in Victoria and New South Wales. This has caused debate between GPs, who are concerned about patient safety, and pharmacists who believe the move will ease pressure on the health system. The Pharmacy Guild has stated that consultations will always take place in private and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia says pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals. However, some medical professionals are worried about the lack of in-depth urine culture tests and the risk of incorrect diagnosis. Others suggest that other clinical workers, such as nurse practitioners, should be given greater prescribing powers. The Federal Assistant Health Minister has left the door open for this to be trialled, as well as for other health workers to be part of prescribing trials. This could mean that more Australians will access primary health care, leading to a healthier country.

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