Consider giving pharmacists greater responsbility

Several packets of brightly coloured medicine

You tip up the container and there is nothing there—your medication is empty; you urgently need more. The local medical clinic has been closed for months and the closest ones are too full to take you. Your only option is an hour's drive away. You will wait ages just for a two-minute conversation for your script then pay through the nose for your appointment.

That's the reality for people in parts of Tassie right now. But you don't need me to tell you that; you are living it. We know that we don't have enough GPs. Small towns like Ouse and Campbelltown are losing their clinics. People need to access medication and they are struggling to get it. 

That's why I was pleased to hear that the Tasmanian state government is looking at whether we should expand the powers of pharmacists.

If allowing pharmacists to do scripts for things like asthma, migraines, oral contraceptives and chronic illnesses meant that people would get the medicine they need when they need it then this would be a step in the right direction.

I don't think pharmacists should be able to prescribed everything; it should only lower-level stuff. Maybe could only be something a doctor had initially prescribed, and you could only get so many repeats before you need to go back to the doctor. Pharmacists will also need extra training to do this.

I think there should be clear boundaries and a line in the sand between pharmacists and doctors. It is not a substitute for seeing a GP, and I'm not saying it should be. 

But it's pretty clear that we need to look at outside-the-box solutions when it comes to health in Tasmania. People are dying because they cannot get the care they need. 

I look forward to seeing the outcome of the state government's review.