Pharmacy Guild President Trent Twomey says the healthcare system is “crammed”.

However, he said the COVID-19 pandemic – while pharmacists were helping to roll out the vaccine – has shifted power and made decision-makers more likely to listen to the guild’s suggestions for improving the healthcare system. The Pharmacy Guild represents about 5,900 community pharmacy owners.

Twomey told students “the health care system is overflowing,” but cautioned that increasing the Medicare rebate for primary care physicians isn’t the answer. He referred to GPs as “you idiots” when commenting on the increasing commercialization of GP practice ownership.

“The point I want to make is that the hospital system is under pressure and other elements of primary care are under pressure … Money is not the solution to system reform,” he said.

Twomey said the only solution to Australia’s health crisis is “to fully employ all health practitioners”. “Nurses, yes. dentists, yes. Pharmacists too,” he said.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners condemned Twomey’s comments on Friday, saying the Pharmacy Guild was out of control and its stance “should send shivers down the spine of politicians everywhere”.

“In this extraordinary speech, Trent Twomey laid bare the future intentions of the Guild for their sector and the future of healthcare in Australia. They believe that restrictions on pharmacy prescriptions should be removed,” President Nicole Higgins said in a statement.

“It’s about wielding power and expanding the role of the pharmacy to maximize the profits of the pharmacy owners at all costs.


“Part of the skill of general medicine is knowing when not to prescribe. The Pharmacy Guild seems to think that everything can be fixed with a drug. Pharmacists simply do not have the expertise and training to perform the function of prescribing medicines – this is a job that should be left to physicians.”

In turn, the Guild accused Higgins of repurposing Twomey’s comments to incite media frenzy.

“The speech was described by attendees as connecting, inspiring and patient-focused,” said a spokesperson.

“Professor Twomey stands by his speech and will always champion the best health interests of patients and promote safe and evidence-based healthcare.”

A federal taskforce on Medicare reform will finalize its report this month, which some taskforce members say should focus on a major systems overhaul.

Break through the noise of federal politics with news, perspective and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up for our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here. Pharmacy Guild President Trent Twomey says the healthcare system is “crammed”.

Callan Tansill

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