Phar­ma­cists: ‘ We’re blow­ing big bucks on doc­tor visits’

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - MANDY SQUIRES

AUS­TRALIANS are fork­ing out tens of millions of dol­lars on doc­tor visits each year just to be told to take a Panadol.

New mod­el­ling from the Phar­macy Guild of Aus­tralia shows al­most $65 mil­lion a year is be­ing spent on ap­point­ments at which pa­tients are ad­vised to take parac­eta­mol or ibupro­fen. Pa­tients were also more than $300 mil­lion out of pocket an­nu­ally for quick GP visits for rou­tine mat­ters such as ob­tain­ing med­i­cal cer­tifi­cates, re­peat pre­scrip­tions or cough medicine.

Na­tional Phar­macy Guild pres­i­dent Ge­orge Tam­bassis said Aus­tralia’s health­care sys­tem was not ad­e­quately adapt­ing to the coun­try’s age­ing and grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, leav­ing fam­i­lies with record costs and poorer ac­cess to GPs.

Phar­ma­cists could play a big­ger role in health­care to re­lieve the pres­sure on doc­tors and save fam­i­lies money, he said.

“Mak­ing greater use of phar­ma­cists in the health­care sys­tem would mean fam­i­lies don’t need to pay for a doc­tors ap­point­ment every time they need re­peat pre­scrip­tions, treat­ment for a com­mon ail­ment, or a vac­ci­na­tion.

“It would also ease pres­sure on over­worked GPs so they could spend more time with their pa­tients, treat­ing se­ri­ous is­sues,” Mr Tam­bassis said.

The mod­el­ling showed Aussies pay about $181 mil­lion in out of pocket costs to see GPs only to be told to take over the counter drugs of some kind, more than $30 mil­lion to get vac­ci­na­tions and about $44 mil­lion to get doc­tors’ cer­tifi­cates.

Re­spond­ing to the mod­el­ling, AMA pres­i­dent Tony Bar­tone said if the guild wanted phar­ma­cists to be doc­tors they should have med­i­cal de­grees.

Ge­orge Tam­bassis.

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