Low pay, poor career progression and high workloads are the top three issues reported to Professional Pharmacists Australia, said its national director Matt Harris, who says he remains concerned about the state of the industry despite the signing of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement today.
“Employee pharmacists are still doing it tough,” Harris told the AJP.
“Low pay, poor career progression and high workloads are the top three issues are reported to us.
“We also think there were further opportunities to include employee pharmacists in the discussions and negotiations of this Agreement which we were not privy to. We did welcome, though, some discussions with the Department of Health.
“We feel there is more that can be done to address these concerns especially through professional programs, provided they are properly monitored and evaluated,” says Harris.
Harris says the doubling of funding for professional programs under the 6CPA is a good first step to further reforms in community pharmacy, but he hopes the funds are appropriately directed into patient care and not unnecessary administration.
“We see this as an opportunity to bed more pharmacists into primary healthcare teams in general practice and aged care, while also expanding access to medicine reviews,” he says.
Chris Walton, PPA CEO says the funding boost follows PPA and other groups’ calls for community pharmacy reform.
“The announcement shows that policy makers are beginning to listen to employee pharmacists about the importance of pharmacists in the delivery of frontline healthcare,” Walton says.
“There are people in hospitals or suffering at home because there isn’t the access to quality pharmacist services that could have prevented medicine misadventure.
“Along with an additional 230,000 hospital admissions each year, 1.5 million Australians suffer adverse effects of medicines.
“Additional funds in this area of healthcare should be welcomed; however we need to ensure that the extra funds get to where there is most need—patient care and not unnecessary administration,” says Walton.
This is where the PPA questions whether the Guild is the proper entity to manage these funds or should the funding go through the Department of Human Services.
“If we have learnt one thing from the auditor’s report, it’s whether the Guild is the best organisation to manage the funding of future professional services such as medicine reviews. We welcome the announcement that these programs will be scrutinised and approved by the independent Medical Services Advisory Committee,” says Walton.
The PPA welcomes the independent pharmacy review which will include a discussion about location rules.
“Our position is clear: it is important to look at all aspects of pharmacy and how it is integrated with the rest of the health system,” says Harris.
“This means looking at the suitability of the location rules as well as the pharmacist employee remuneration model, the impact of the online pharmacy and medicine reviews, and the way we support rural and remote healthcare, Aboriginal healthcare and auditing and government evaluation in providing the very best care for patients.”
By Jayamala Gupte