Doctors decry pharmacists’ expanded powers


The medical associations of Athens and Piraeus have reacted to a Health Ministry amendment introduced in a multi-bill voted through Parliament on Wednesday, which expands the scope of pharmacists’ jobs so that they can officially administer seasonal vaccinations and tetanus jabs.

Although this is a service most pharmacists already provide, formalizing the custom is seen as a step toward giving dispensers the right, pending certification, to provide more basic healthcare services, in a quick-fix bid to address the shortage of doctors in many remote parts of the country.

In separate announcements on Wednesday, the medical associations of Athens and Piraeus decried the initiative, saying that it put the public’s health at risk. “The task of taking a patient’s medical history and assessing whether they should or can be subjected to any medical procedure, such as vaccination, and treating any possible side-effects in the event of a reaction, lies with doctors alone,” the Medical Association of Athens (ISA) said.

“Any medical act carried out by non-doctors in a non-medical environment is an encroachment on the medical profession,” the ISA added.

With the same bill, the Health Ministry has also introduced mobile preventive care units that will be dispatched to parts of Greece with a dearth of doctors. The initial plan is for 90 such units to be put together, each of which will comprise a dentist, a nurse, a health visitor, a midwife, a lab technician and a physical therapist, who will supplement the work done by agricultural medical units and local health clinics.

The staff for these units, which includes drivers and administrators, will be hired via the ASEP state hiring mechanism.