A time for boldness

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It’s time to be bold and go beyond embracing the 6CPA, says Professor Charlie Benrimoj

The 2017 UTS Community Pharmacy Barometer showed pharmacists are more confident about the future than they have been for some time.

The Barometer index of 96.4 out of 200 reported last November is a “neutral” reading, suggesting pharmacists still have some way to go before they feel genuinely positive about the future.

The result, however, is the highest level reported in the seven years of the Barometer, and is a vast improvement on the third-wave Barometer index (October 2013) when it bottomed at 61.2, and the 85.9 recorded in October 2016.

It seems possible that we might go past an index of 100 for the first time this year.

We believe there are many reasons why pharmacists feel cautiously optimistic. One of the most significant factors is the impact of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA), which has stabilised the industry.

Essentially the setting of a floor price for pharmacy remuneration for dispensing, a combination of the dispensing fee and AHI with adjustments to CPI being one of the major income streams for community pharmacies, has been welcomed.

Recent government announcements that support the industry, such as location rules, have also given pharmacy owners more hope that the business environment can remain stable. Additionally, the full effects of the Expanded and Accelerated Price Disclosure policies and the challenge of the discount model are now known.

The PBS report, “Expenditure and Prescriptions Twelve Months to 30th June 2017”, shows that community pharmacy is accessing the fully allocated expenditure in the CPA Professional Pharmacy Program for 2016-17. This reflects the increased delivery of services and provides evidence of the evolution to a patient focused/service model.

Overall, 65% of pharmacies said they were already offering professional services. There is no doubt that rolling out high-quality professional services has the potential to improve the professional nature and profitability of community pharmacies and establish a more precise role for pharmacists within the healthcare landscape.

More than half (56%) of pharmacists who responded to our survey identified professional services as the most significant opportunity for community pharmacy over the next three years. As well as those services already provided (such as MedsCheck, HMR and RMMR), they saw the value of expanding their range of government-funded health initiatives.

Many highlighted the opportunity presented by providing services such as vaccinations, monitoring (blood pressure, cholesterol, coagulation and sleep apnoea), wound care, screening services, medication management (especially for asthma), expanded diabetes services and support for patients quitting smoking or managing their weight.

They also saw the potential of specialisation, developing alliances with interdisciplinary healthcare teams, playing a more prominent part in primary healthcare and taking on more of a clinical role. Some saw value in health destination pharmacies, minor ailment schemes, wound management and working closely with medication professionals.

However, our survey found pharmacy owners were more satisfied with the 6CPA at an economic and professional level than employed pharmacists, who said they had the highest dissatisfaction with the agreement. This could create a challenge for the profession in the future.

The industry cannot afford to have its pharmacist employees to be in an environment that is not to their satisfaction. Dissatisfied employees will lead to dissatisfied patients and customers, and this will impinge on the bottom line.

Professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj is UTS Graduate School of Health’s Head and Professor of Pharmacy Practice, University of Technology Sydney

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  1. GlassCeiling

    Owners most satisfied with the 6CPA. Great!
    Why aren’t the majority of employed pharmacists happy with the 6CPA whilst earning $35 to $40 per hour at best without bonuses?
    I think it is fantastic that wealthy and multimillionaire owners reap rewards of professional services whilst the pharmacists relegated to performing the services on top of existing requirements are enduring effective servitude.
    Let us be bold Charlie- let’s seek a reduction in award wages and continue the unabashed slave state that is the community pharmacy industry. You probably should put the brakes on your student intake there at UTS but hey, take their money and let them taste reality on the other side . Optimism is a sin in this industry.

    • Willy the chemist

      GlassCeiling, you are an unrepentant serial offender in labelling and stereotyping!
      There are many proprietor pharmacists who are beacons of the industry. And there are also many many employee pharmacists whom I am ashamed to be associated in the profession.
      You are a recalcitrant class warrior, unfortunately, that’s just a class war no one wins. Stop playing this game.

      • GlassCeiling

        There is a class system in pharmacy. Were South African blacks recalcitrant to challenge apartheid?

        This article by Charlie Benrimoj clearly demonstrates that the owner class are more satisfied in general than the employee class. The last paragraph even states that unhappy employees are
        ‘bad for the bottom line’ ,clearly depersonalising employees as the working class.

        The Pharmacy Guild have negotiated CPAs representing owner interests. Employees are not represented. Read and attempt to comprehend again – only a minority of pharmacists are represented in the agreement that trickles money down to a vast number of employee pharmacists.

        Many employees are not employee class by choice but by the unnecessary , illogical and solely pharmacy owner serving location rules. The community are not served by location rules as every non- Guild review of pharmacy has recognised. If employees had choice the class system would not exist.

        As a former owner I know the benefits of ownership and the raw deal employees get in most circumstances . I have seen behind the curtain and the owner world truly is a different level of financial control and professional self determination .

        I have never approved of the advantage or disadvantage to a pharmacist independent of their professional capacity. The community pharmacy system in Australia is classist.

  2. Cogrady

    My brothers earnt 20 dollars an hour putting chairs out at conferences in 1990 and they didn’t have the ability to make mistakes or being blamed for making mistakes

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