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Sonic gives in to GP pressure over Amcal tests

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Sonic gives in to GP pressure over Amcal tests

Sonic Healthcare has withdrawn its services from Amcal’s new pathology-based screening program following a GP backlash.

But the pharmacy banner group plans to continue the program and is investigating alternative pathology providers.

Sonic says it and subsidiary SmartHealth will no longer provide pathology services for the program at more than 100 Amcal pharmacies.

This follows “feedback from GPs”.

The company says the program is in line with a health department initiative for in-pharmacy screening to identify at-risk patients and refer them into the primary health care system.

However, many GPs expressed concerns about the initiative, it says in a statement.

Amacal’s owner, Sigma, says Sonic’s decision is “disappointing”, given how hard both parties had worked on the program.

 “This pathology program is about empowering and motivating patients to manage their own health, including better engagement with their GP.”

The pathology college backed the Amcal program, which rolled out in late June.

Pharmacies have been offering tests in packages with prices ranging from $25 for a simple HbA1c test performed in the pharmacy to $219.50 for a comprehensive general health screening that includes HbA1c, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, TGs,  full blood count, iron studies, liver function test and a kidney function test (urea electrolytes and creatinine).

Sigma pointed out that patients could already order pathology testing online and its service was a safer alternative.

“Accessing these pathology testing services through a trained healthcare professional provides patients with a face-to-face contact able to help them understand their results – something that is not available through similar online services.”

AMA president Dr Michael Gannon, a leading critic of the Amcal program, was quick to respond to Sonic's decision. There were better ways for pharmacists to contribute to patient centred healthcare, he wrote on social media.

"This was a wasteful gouge that fragmented care."


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