Hospital pharmacists win on pay, staffing

Pharmacists working in the ACT’s public hospital system have secured a win for their pay and conditions

Last month Professionals Australia ACT director Dale Beasley told the AJP that a number of pharmacists had left the system and more were ready to walk out for good, thanks to issues around understaffing and resultant conflict with other health professionals.

Later, the Territory’s Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris released figures in response to an Opposition question in the Legislative Assembly, which showed that staff turnover in Canberra Hospital’s pharmacy department was 32% between 1 January 2017 and 30 June 2018.

Ms Fitzharris confirmed that 27 appointments had been made since January 2017. Of these appointments, six pharmacists had already resigned.

Pharmacists had threatened industrial action to highlight their concerns.

Now, Mr Beasley says that following extended negotiations, hospital pharmacists have won “clear commitments” from ACT Health to address their concerns.

“ACT Health has listened thanks to the strength shown by members in sticking to their position and being willing to take protected industrial action,” Mr Beasley said.

“Their resolve has resulted in the issues receiving the attention from Health that they deserve. This means pharmacists are on track to fix long held concerns for the good of patients’ health and their own health.”

He said that ACT Health had acknowledged “historic issues with maintaining staffing levels due to uncompetitive salaries and outdated classifications”.

“The old system, which relied on ad hoc attraction and retention bonuses, failed.

“The new structure which we have achieved will incorporate the old ad hoc bonuses into a pharmacist’s regular salary, provide broadbands and regular salary increases for the duration of the enterprise agreement.

“Additional bonuses will also now be extended to the classification level that hasn’t historically received them.”

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