The Editorial Executive Committee welcomes letters, which should be less than 250 words. Before a decision to publish is made, letters which refer to a published article may be sent to the author for a response. Any letter may be sent to an expert for comment. When letters are published, they are usually accompanied in the same issue by their responses or comments. The Committee screens out discourteous, inaccurate or libellous statements. The letters are sub-edited before publication. Authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest. The Committee's decision on publication is final.

Letters to the Editor

Editor, – In response to Professor Gullotta's letter about nurse prescribing (Aust Prescr 2007;30:88–90), I would stress that pharmacists are not the 'lesser-trained' professionals with regard to medications. How many doctors could claim they possess four years training in pharmacology and pharmaceutical care?

A few years ago I was approached to train as a pharmacist prescriber in the UK. Throughout my dispensing training, I worked alongside a general practitioner who was both mentor and assessor. My specific area of practice was hypertension management where I was valued, not as a 'pretend doctor', but as an expert on medicines. My remit was to conduct a hypertension clinic with previously diagnosed patients, monitor blood pressure, counsel on lifestyle, and review and discuss medication use. The range of prescription drugs I could prescribe was restricted to a formulary and I was entrusted to work within the level of my competency.

Contrary to Dr Gullotta's concern, I would argue that the well-managed introduction of non-doctor prescribers can actually enhance patient care.

Juanita Westbury
PhD candidate
University of Tasmania
Hobart


Editor, – The inference in the letter (Aust Prescr 2007;30:88–90), that only medical practitioners should be afforded prescribing rights, is in my view a somewhat myopic vision for the future health care of the country. Furthermore, the assertion that potential non-medical prescribers are 'lesser-trained' health professionals is misleading. They are not lesser trained in medicine, rather differently, yet highly, trained in their respective healthcare fields. The question is not whether we should consider alleged 'lesser-trained' doctors to prescribe, but whether we should allow other health professionals to extend their skills into the area of prescribing.

Patients often tell me that they could wait for a week before they are able to visit their doctor for their health complaint or regular prescription. The introduction of suitably qualified non-medical prescribers could afford general practitioners more time to focus in a more advanced diagnostic role.

Stephen Carbonara
Community pharmacist
Albion Park, NSW