Skin condition medications added to pharmacy trial

A trial program allowing pharmacies to provide certain medications, saving patients a trip to the doctor, has been expanded to include some common skin conditions.

Eczema, shingles, school sores and mild plaque psoriasis are now covered by the NSW trial, which general practitioners have criticised, claiming it overlooks the patient's overall care.

Treatment for urinary tract infections and the oral contraceptive pill are already available through pharmacies via the program.

Health Minister Ryan Park said the trial's findings would shape what role pharmacists could play in making healthcare more accessible.

"We know how difficult it is to access a GP - there were fewer GPs in NSW in 2023 than there were in 2018 - that's why we're making it easier for people to gain access to simple treatments and the medications they need for non-complex conditions," he said.

"Thousands of people in NSW experience common skin conditions and anyone who has had or cared for someone with one of these conditions knows how uncomfortable they can be."

It saves patients the cost of a trip to the doctor, instead simply paying for their medication.

During the trial, pharmacies are paid for each skin condition consultation to cover the patient fee.

Pharmacy Guild of NSW president David Heffernan (file image)
David Heffernan says the trial will take pressure off the medical system. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Pharmacy Guild NSW branch president David Heffernan said the UTI trial success clearly showed the system could work for other medications.

"This trial will mean more accessible everyday healthcare, taking pressure off hospital emergency departments and freeing up GPs to treat more complex conditions," he said.

"Community pharmacies across NSW are ready to do more to help provide patients with primary health care they need."

Doctors are worried about patient safety when GPs are cut out of the process, suggesting people need a medical expert monitoring their overall health.

"Pharmacists are brilliant at what they do, but they aren't as trained to diagnose … GPs spend 10 years being trained to diagnose problems so they can rule out a whole raft of weird and wonderful things," Royal Australian College of General Practitioners NSW chair Rebekah Hoffman told AAP in May.

The skin condition trial starts on July 12.