16 August 2023

ACT pharmacies to treat urinary tract infections under 12-month trial

| Ian Bushnell
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Rachel Stephen-Smith

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says the trial will mean faster access to treatment and less pressure on other primary health care providers. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Canberrans will now be able to seek treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) at selected ACT pharmacies as part of a NSW-led trial.

The ACT and NSW Governments have agreed on ACT pharmacies participating in the 12-month trial, which will evaluate the effectiveness and safety of pharmacists prescribing antibiotics to treat uncomplicated UTIs in women aged between 18 and 65.

Uncomplicated UTIs are most common among women, whereas generally men are more likely to be at risk of a complicated UTI. An uncomplicated UTI can be treated with a short course of antibiotics.

Later in the year, the participating pharmacies will also be able to resupply the contraceptive pill to eligible women as part of the trial.

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Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the trial would mean faster access to treatment and reduce pressure on other primary health care providers.

Five pharmacies across the ACT have been selected by researchers at the University of Newcastle, who are leading the trial and have been licensed by ACT Health to participate in the program.

The pharmacies are in all geographical areas in the ACT, and include Capital Chemist Charnwood, Gold Creek Discount Drug Store, The Pharmacy on Petrie in the Canberra Centre, Erindale Pharmacy at Erindale Shopping Centre and PharmaSave Woden Pharmacy at Westfield Woden.

They will follow strict protocols and diagnostic criteria to ensure the safe and quality use of antibiotics in the treatment of uncomplicated UTIs, and ensure patients understand when they may need to seek further care.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the trial would help health authorities understand the role of pharmacists prescribing treatments in the context of the health system, and ensure that the ACT was in step with NSW.

“ACT Health will continue to engage with NSW Health, the trial researchers at the University of Newcastle, and pharmacy and medical stakeholder bodies in the ACT throughout the trial,” she said.

“They will also work closely with the pharmacy sector to ensure that they have the necessary training and resources to deliver these services safely and effectively.”

ACT Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Simon Blacker said community pharmacies were the easiest health facility for people to find and reach.

“This trial is an important step forward in providing patients with greater access to health services while broadening pharmacists’ scope of practice,” he said.

“With nearly 2000 people presenting to emergency in the ACT for a urinary infection annually, this initiative will help reduce pressure on the hospital system and make UTI treatments more accessible for Canberrans across the Territory.”

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ACT Branch President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Olivia Collenette said the trial was an important step in improving community-based care.

“Pharmacists can and should be able to do more to support our patients, working to the top of our scope of practice to ensure healthcare is more accessible,” she said.

The trial services will include a fee for both the consultation and antibiotics if required. Patients may be referred to a doctor (GP) or the emergency department if they need additional care or urgent treatment.

In the ACT, people can also receive free treatment for uncomplicated UTIs at a nurse-led walk-in centre.

For more information on the trial and who is eligible, visit the website.

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Hmmm. I wonder if the pharmacist generated scripts will be for one month’s supply, or the new two-month’s?

davidzilber, Two months are usually not needed, or even a month. Much shorter time.

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