AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that a partnership between a pharmacy chain and nurse practitioners to open 150 walk-in clinics poses a serious threat to the quality and safety of health care in Australia.
It is reported that the Perth-based Revive nurse clinics and the Pharmacy Alliance group plan to open more than 150 clinics nationally by 2012.
Dr Pesce said that operating nurse practitioner clinics out of pharmacies was 'supermarket medicine' that would drive down quality and safety of health care and put patients at risk.
"Nurse practitioners tend to be highly trained in a narrow area of health care and are not skilled or experienced in providing holistic care for people," Dr Pesce said.
"The Revive Clinics are being promoted as a one stop shop for diagnosis, treatment and prescribing for common or minor ailments, which is a dangerous claim by practitioners not qualified or experienced to identify when symptoms may be due to more serious or complex illnesses.
"Common or minor ailments are not always common or minor, especially in the elderly and people with complex and chronic conditions, and these are the people who could be drawn to the clinics.
"Doctors are best qualified for these consultations. These clinics will only encourage the fragmentation of care, which is the 'enemy' of quality care.
"There is also a potential conflict of interest for the pharmacies hosting these clinics as they would stand to benefit from dispensing the nurse practitioners' prescriptions," Dr Pesce said.
Dr Pesce questioned whether this form of collaborative care was intended under the Government's Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009
, which is waiting to be debated in the House of Representatives.
"Surely the Government does not believe that a nurse practitioner plus a pharmacist equals collaborative care.
"Surely the Government does not believe that a nurse practitioner plus a pharmacist equals a doctor.
"The Government must put a stop to arrangements that represent a commercial conflict of interest before they are allowed to pose a threat to quality and safe health care.
"Doctors have always recognised the need to separate diagnosis and treatment from dispensing or selling therapeutic goods," Dr Pesce said.