‘No such thing as a non-professional service pharmacist’: Guild

One fifth of pharmacies employ a dedicated professional services pharmacist: Guild says concept shouldn’t exist, PSA calls for more funding for roles

The recently published UTS Pharmacy Barometer asked 178 pharmacy owners and owner managers whether they employed a pharmacist dedicated mainly to the provision of non-dispensing professional services.

One fifth (19%) of pharmacy owners and owner managers indicated that they employed a professional services pharmacist, however the majority (81%) did not.

“Over time we can expect to see this number grow as the positions become more viable,” said PSA director and past president Warwick Plunkett.

We asked the same question of our readers, extending the poll to pharmacist employees.

Over two weeks, 301 AJP readers responded to the poll.

The results almost exactly reflected those of the UTS Pharmacy Barometer survey.

When asked whether their pharmacy has a dedicated professional services pharmacist, an overwhelming 80% (240 votes) of respondents said “no”.

However one fifth (20%, 61 votes) of respondents say “yes”, their workplace has a dedicated professional services pharmacist.

The Pharmacy Guild says the concept of a pharmacist being hired mainly for the provision of professional services, outside of dispensing, should not exist.

“The most frequently performed professional service in pharmacy in Australia is the dispensing of a prescription,” Guild acting national president Trent Twomey told AJP.

“The other professional programs are extensions of this core service. 

“All pharmacists need to be performing all of these tasks, so all Australians have the same level of access,” said Mr Twomey.

“All pharmacists are professional service pharmacists. There is no such thing as a non-professional service pharmacist.”

Some AJP readers agreed that it should not be an exclusive role.

“I think the point is being missed,” pharmacy business expert Bruce Annabel said of the topic.

“The best way to explain that is from my experiences: all pharmacists working in the pharmacies I’m associated with are professional service pharmacists who also deliver professional services. Simply allocating one pharmacist with the role doesn’t work particularly well.”

Meanwhile the PSA called for more money to be injected into the pharmacy sector so that more professional services pharmacists can exist.

PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman told AJP that the poll results “highlight the disparity from the desired evolution of community pharmacists to be more focused on health service delivery and what the current environment looks like, creating a sense of professional frustration in the sector”.

“Fundamentally this stems from a lack of funding for services, making these roles often financially unsustainable in many community pharmacies,” said Dr Freeman.

“We must see greater levels of investment from the Community Pharmacy Agreement to fund and help support pharmacists deliver these valuable and critical health services to the community.

“Without this investment, community pharmacies will not be able to support pharmacists in this role more widely across the sector … We simply can’t keep doing more for less.”

PSA’s comments address the concerns of reader Steve Flavel, who argued that the concept of a dedicated professional services pharmacist isn’t currently financially viable.

“Considering the funding for professional services has essentially come out of the decreased remuneration from dispensing via price disclosure, it is disappointing that the alleged payback of funds through the delivery of professional services should come at the cost of another pharmacist on the payroll,” said Mr Flavel.

“Seriously, how many small pharmacies do you think are going to remain in existence if a dedicated ‘Professional service Pharmacist’ is expected to be the norm?”

Paul Sapardanis said of the current situation: “Funding for these new roles is so low that it is not viable to hire a specific pharmacist for this.

“What I am finding is that pharmacies that had 2 or more pharmacists at any one time have converted one of these pharmacists into the new role (or at least partly).

“The other pharmacist(s) are then asked to carry a greater traditional role to offset the loss (partial) of a colleague. Single pharmacist pharmacies have not had the ability to do this and have therefore missed out on this opportunity.”

Previous World news wrapup: 30 May 2019
Next Keeping up to date

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. JimT

    Doctors are GP’s and then there are specialists and then there are sub groups of them…..why not apply this to pharmacists and pay them accordingly…….

  2. Ex-Pharmacist

    Twomey hit the nail on the head when he said this “All pharmacists are professional service pharmacists. There is no such thing as a non-professional service pharmacist.”
    See what the Guild is afraid of? As soon as you create the position of a PSP you are creating the position of a NPSP. This has ramifications when the Guild sits down with the government and asks for $20+ Billion in the next CPA. The government could very well say to the Guild we will only fund [insert any one of the many non-evidence based cash grabs pharmacists currently claim in 6CPA] for a service provided by PSP’s, meaning Guild members have to establish PSP’s in all their pharmacies. This will involve more cash out of their pockets, in training, new claiming processes and higher wages for these ‘specialist’ pharmacists.
    Most worryingly for the Guild, this then could lead down the path of individual pharmacists (PSP’s) granted claiming rights directly from Medicare for services rendered, bypassing the Section 90 pharmacy owner.
    The Guild obviously don’t want to go down that path.

  3. Apotheke

    Pharmacy Guild does not want independent Pharmacist practitioners. It has done its level best to control and hijack the RMMR and QUM program in Nursing homes and its actions regarding HMRs, limiting them to 20 pcm, effectively killed this program as a viable pathway for Pharmacists to follow outside of being an owner or employee of a Pharmacy. If you think about it why would anyone go into debt for in excess of $1million dollars to buy a PBS approval number when you could go into business for yourself with your only costs being a car, mobile phone, computer, printer, fax for approx $20-$30,000. That would go a long way to drying up the potential pool of Pharmacy purchasers wouldn’t it! Can’t have that can we Mr Tambassis and Mr Twomey.

Leave a reply