Pharmacy Council Campaign

Between June and October 2018, the Queensland Parliament conducted an inquiry into the potential establishment of a pharmacy council. The inquiry also examined other issues related to pharmacy including ownership and the scope of practice for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants.

During the inquiry, the Pharmacy Guild lobbied for pharmacists to have the ability to write repeat prescriptions. AMA Queensland made a strong submission to the inquiry that strongly opposes pharmacists writing prescriptions. Our submission noted how this proposal will fragment patient care and produce poorer outcomes, as well as putting pharmacists in a difficult conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, one of the inquiry report’s recommendations suggested that “the Department of Health develop options to provide low-risk emergency and repeat prescriptions (for example, repeats of the contraceptive pill) and low risk vaccinations (including low risk travel vaccinations) through pharmacies subject to a risk-minimisation framework.”

AMA Queensland is strongly opposed to this. We believe this is a dangerous recommendation and we call on all members to make their voice heard to their local member of Parliament, asking them to let the Minister for Health, Steven Miles, know that doctors in their electorate are deeply concerned with this proposal.

WHAT SHOULD I SAY?

AMA Queensland has drafted two form letters which you can easily modify. We recommend you use one of these.

If you want to write your own letter, we recommend you read the AMA Queensland submission in addition to the inquiry report to help inform the position you take in the letter.

HOW DO I CONTACT MY LOCAL MP?

If you don’t know what electorate you live or work in, you can find out by clicking here and entering your address in the search bar.

Once you know what electorate you are in, use this document to find out who your local MP is and what their contact details are.

AMA Queensland strongly encourages all our members to make their voice heard to counter the efforts of the Pharmacy Guild. Please write to your local MP, using one of our form letters or your own words if you wish, to let them know why pharmacy prescribing is a dangerous proposal fraught with consequences for doctors, patients and the broader health system.

MEET WITH YOUR LOCAL MEMBER AND PUT OUR CASE FORWARD

We also encourage all AMA Queensland members to reinforce their letter by meeting with their local MP in person to put their concerns to them directly.

HOW DO I ARRANGE A MEETING?

You need to contact their offices and request a meeting. If you don’t know what electorate you live or work in, you can find out by clicking here and entering your address in the search bar. 
Once you know what electorate you are in, use this document to find out who your local MP is and what their contact details are.

HOW DO I MAKE THE MOST OF THE MEETING?

  1. It is likely that you will only have a short amount of time to discuss your issue, so it is important to be clear and concise in what you are asking for. (As a guide 30 minutes is a common appointment length – but this should always be clarified so that best use is made of whatever available time you have)
  2. If you know other doctors who share your concerns, organise a small team to attend the meeting. This will give you some moral support and back-up. If you can organise representatives of other groups concerned about the issue, that’s even better. This will help to show your MP that the issue has wider community support
  3. Appearance shouldn’t matter, but it does. Get off on the right foot by dressing appropriately and arriving on time. Looking smart and well-groomed gives a better first impression
  4. Start by introducing yourself and thanking your MP for taking the time to meet with you. Remember to speak clearly, politely and audibly and maintain good eye contact. It’s great to be passionate, but balance this with politeness
  5. Make sure you know how to pronounce their name and which party they belong to
  6. Know what it is that you want to tell them. Read the AMA Queensland submission to the inquiry as well as the inquiry report. Whilst no one expects you to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the issue, a good understanding of the issue coupled with your own professional knowledge will be very persuasive
  7. Be confident about what you do know and offer to get back to them on anything you don’t. Saying “I don’t know” is always better than making points you can’t back up
  8. Let them know your concerns about the proposal to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice. Be clear as to why you have concerns and the dangers it poses not only to patient care but to the broader health system. Back it up with your own experience as a doctor
  9. Remember, your MP is there to represent you regardless of how much you know about your issue. The most important reason for meeting with your MP is simply that you care about the issue
  10. As the meeting ends, ask your MP to advise the Minister for Health about your concerns. Ask them to commit to doing so and to report back when they have taken action
  11. Even if your MP does not support your position, being asked to justify their differing view is a valuable and fundamental part of the democratic process
  12. Make sure your MP honours their commitments to you. If you don’t hear anything within a month, give their office a call or write to ask them whether they have taken the action they committed to take. Once again, persistence is the key

Elements of this page have been adapted from advice originally written by the RACP and Oxfam Australia.

IF YOU NEED FURTHER INFORMATION

If you have any questions or need further information regarding the pharmacy council inquiry, please do not hesitate to send an email to policy@amaq.com.au