Retail pharmacies are not the place for COVID-19 testing

Henry Bateman

14th August, 2020

News this week that the QLD Health Minister has approved a pilot program, where testing for COVID-19 is provided through pharmacies, is alarming and potentially dangerous for all Queenslanders. 
 
The risk of exposing the general public to COVID-19 positive patients is simply too great. 
 
How would I know? At Cornerstone Health we have continued to provide access to essential healthcare throughout this pandemic operating eight large-scale medical centres. This includes three medical centres in Queensland, medical centres at the frontline of COVID-19 hotspots in Sydney and Melbourne, and a dedicated GP Respiratory Clinic setup in conjunction with the Federal Government.

It takes rigorous procedures and appropriate patient follow up managed by General Practitioners, strong PPE stocks and constant vigilance to support our local communities through this crisis while protecting patients, staff and doctors. This simply cannot be achieved in a busy retail pharmacy where the environment is not built for this task and the pharmacists are not clinically trained for this level of patient care.  
 

The QLD Health Minister claims this pilot with pharmacies will make it even easier for Queenslanders to get tested. But will it protect Queenslanders in the process? 
 
Even the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) President has expressed concerns for the safety of pharmacists, staff and the general public – particularly those with chronic health conditions that regularly attend a pharmacy. 
 
Now is not the time for ill-thought through trials, but rather to stay the course with what we know has been working, particularly in locations that have been facing serious outbreaks of COVID-19. 

General practice, working in close conjunction with specially trained pathologists, remains the true frontline of this pandemic, keeping all Australians safe. 

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