First step towards Pharmacist Prescribing – Urinary Tract Infection Pilot Program Extended


The Queensland Government last month announced the permanent extension to the Urinary Tract Infection Pilot (UTIP) Program, after thousands of women received timely and successful treatment for uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) from participating community pharmacists. The pilot was led by Queensland University of Technology’s Professor Lisa Nissen FPS.

With 50% of women experiencing a UTI in their lifetime, the success of the pilot demonstrated the key role community pharmacy can play in reducing the pressure on public health services. The program prevented almost 1,000 emergency department presentations, with patients indicating they would have sought hospital care had the service not been available.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath, said “the decision ensured women aged between 18 and 65 could continue to receive immediate advice and treatment for uncomplicated UTIs through their local participating pharmacy.”

Over the course of the pilot from June 2020 until the 31st of December 2021, a total of 6,531 Queensland women aged between 18 and 65 years of age received 6,751 treatments for an uncomplicated urinary tract infection. The average age for the service was 35 years with the majority presenting for a single treatment.

The primary presenting symptoms recorded for patients were consistent with uncomplicated UTIs, such as urinary frequency (90.3%), dysuria (74.7%), urinary urgency (70.3%) and a smaller number with suprapubic pain (37%).

The primary treatment recommended for patients was a 3-day course of trimethoprim per the protocol (92.6%) with a small number receiving cefalexin (2.6%) and nitrofurantoin (1.1%). Several patients were also referred or deemed ineligible for antimicrobial treatment (3.7%) following consultation.

The cost to the patient for the service included a professional service fee, as well as the additional price of the antibiotic treatment provided. The service fee was set at $19.95, with antibiotic treatments dispensed by individual pharmacies as a private prescription. While some individual variations occurred across the sites the general range for antibiotic prescriptions was $10.00 – $15.00.

QUT’s final outcome report on the pilot, ‘found that pharmacists have the appropriate skills, competencies, and training to manage the empiric treatment of uncomplicated UTIs in the community pharmacy’, despite long-standing concerns expressed by the Royal College of Australian General Practitioners (RCAGP).

Many pharmacists will remember the resistance to the Queensland pharmacist immunisation pilot (QPIP), which concluded in 2015. The results of the pilot demonstrated that a pharmacist delivered vaccination service was feasible in community pharmacy and was also safe and effective. Vaccination services are now embedded in the service model of pharmacies across the nation.

The extension of the UTIP program will now come down to each of the state and territory governments looking at the success of the pilot in Queensland and provide the legislative approval to enable this to occur throughout the country.



How to Participate

The pilot is currently open to all Queensland pharmacies that are accredited through the Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCPP). Interested pharmacies can complete this form, with the owner, or a delegate of the owner, however they must also complete the QUT Pharmacy Site Consent.

Pharmacist Training

All pharmacists participating in the UTIPP-Q must complete the mandatory online training.

QUT’s evaluation report of UTIPP-Q is 
available here.