Women in NSW will be able to access free consults for uncomplicated urinary tract infections from pharmacies from Monday, before the trial will be expanded to include the oral contraceptive pill in July.
The patient consultation, normally costing $20, will be absorbed by the government; however, women will need to pay for any medication they may need.
The first stage of the trial will involve about 100 community pharmacies across NSW, before it will be expanded into an additional 1000 clinics from July.
Women who require antibiotics will also be given a take-home urinary test, which they will be asked to complete and store the sample in the fridge before consuming the medication.
The urine can then be assessed by GPs if the patient isn’t responding to the medication and requires further care.
NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said he would ensure the pharmacists participating in the trial would be spread across the state.
“I want to make sure that this isn’t just available to women in our metropolitan cities, but as someone who’s determined to put a focus on regional rural health care, I want to make sure this trial reaches the lengths and breadths of NSW,” he said.
Mr Park said the move would help alleviate pressure on GPs and primary care services.
“The NSW government is committed to improving access to medicines,” he said.
“We want to ensure this is done so safely – and we are determined to get it right.
“We will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth government on innovative models of care that makes health care more accessible for the community.”
From July this year, women between 18 to 35 will also be able to access the oral contraceptive pill if they meet the requirements.
The medication will be administered to women who are taking the pill for contraception purposes only and if they were prescribed a low-risk pill by a GP or nurse practitioner in the last two years.
Expired scripts will still be eligible as long as they were issued in the last two years.
The move has been welcomed by the NSW Pharmacy Guild, with president David Heffernan hoping it would lead to further reforms.
“These reforms acknowledge the important role pharmacists play in providing primary care services to the communities they serve. The opportunity to provide support to women needing this assistance will further strengthen these relationships,” Mr Heffernan said.