NSW pharmacists keep ability to treat uncomplicated UTIs

NSW women will be able to bypass their GPs and head straight to the pharmacy to get treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs), following the completion of a successful trial.

From June 1, the measure will be made permanent, with more than 1000 pharmacists and 16,000 patients using the service since June last year.

However, the government will discontinue footing the $20 per patient consultation costs, which means pharmacists may set their independent fees for the short consult.

Pharmacists must still be required to undergo training in order to be allowed to provide the consultations and prescriptions for the medications.

Eligible patients must also meet specific criteria, including be aged 18 to 65, displaying symptoms consistent with an uncomplicated UTI, and have had a recent infection, or be at high risk of complications.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said the new measure would take pressure of GPs and divert patients away from primary care services.

“Enabling pharmacists to do more will mean many women will get timely access to the care they need,” he said.

“Ensuring continuity of care will be crucial as pharmacy service offerings increase, including strengthened communications between pharmacists and doctors about a patient’s treatment.”

The evaluation of the trial will now undergo a review conducted by the University of Newcastle’s chief investigator Sarah Dineen-Griffin, with the results expected to be given to the NSW Ministry of Health by early 2025.

In September last year, more than 900 NSW pharmacies joined a trial to allow pharmacists to prescribe the contraceptive pill to women between 18 to 35 years of age, who have had a past prescription.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia NSW Branch president David Heffernan said pharmacists were ready to “step up take some of the pressure off of GP clinics and hospitals”.

“Women across NSW will benefit from easy access to treatment for painful UTIs,” he said.

“This UTI trial has been a success in providing affordable, accessible everyday healthcare with over 16,000 women treated across the state.”

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