‘Overworked, underpaid, unrecognised’

A pharmacy owner has criticised pharmacist pay rates, saying female community pharmacists are being ‘ignored’

Sydney pharmacist and owner Peter Feros has slammed community pharmacy pay rates, pointing out that it is mostly women missing out.

Mr Feros, who has a financial interest in several pharmacies and medical centres, compares current pharmacist rates to those of childcare workers under Labor’s recent election promise.

“Bill Shorten has recognised the low paid workers in the child care sector where the award wage is $24.87 per hour,” he told AJP.

If the Labor Party is elected, it has promised to boost child care workers’ pay by 20%, lifting it above the pharmacist award rate.

“Compare these rates to the pharmacist intern rate of $24.04 and the pharmacist award rate of $27.19,” says Mr Feros.

The majority of both professions are female, with 62.5% of pharmacists being women.

“Female community pharmacists are being ignored again,” says Mr Feros.

“Choose pharmacy as a career and be overworked, underpaid and unrecognised.”

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  1. Paul Sapardanis

    Yes all this is true but how has this happened and how can it remedied

    • Paige

      Paul, there are a variety of contributing circumstances to the situation.

      -Deregulated university practices lead to an overabundance of graduates in the 2012-2019 period. Which meant several competing graduates would go for the same position eliminating the need for high wages.

      -Pharmacy guild have actively worked to keep the award low to protect their and their members interest because..

      -A perfect storm of the rise of the big box discounter and price disclosure halved most stores margins within 24 months between 2014 and 2016.

      -Pharmacies used to be able to operate at 10% wages to revenue due to the ability of a single pharmacist churning out 150 scripts a day to pay their wages and then some.

      -The sweet spot is now 14%, the impetus of owners to pay more than needed or give raises to stay inside this 14% while still putting on enough staff to serve the customers means there is no room for a wage increase.

      -Removal from the skilled immigration list helped a little, but what it really did was drive up competition for rural pharmacists, meaning regional areas now struggle to operate.

      How to remedy this?

      The viability of Pharmacy needs to be considered and meaningful change needs to be enacted by the government to remedy the situation. Minor deregulation could help the struggling bottom line feeding into the wages bill up to a still viable 18% wages to revenue. But the industry opposes this.

      Unless the profitability of the PBS is restored allowing a single pharmacist to be worthwhile enough to the business to keep wages high and EBIT flowing then wages will not grow (In metro areas at least)

  2. Bruce ANNABEL

    Dispensing profitability is in very good shape thanks to kick ups in fees in 15/16 (AHI) and 17/18 (risk share lift) meaning that’s not the problem. It’s everything else going on particularly negligible customer and script growth, excessive and unnecessary price discounting, rents in some locations and high debt levels. All my clients pay pharmacists well over the award because they perform productive income producing activities, not just dispensing. These include professional services, professional service, minor ailments, compounding, wound care, condition management and don’t price discount. The issue is the pharmacy business model in most cases relies pharmacist dispensary administration and processing and price discounting to offer ‘value’ which is why many employers are revert to the award rate which is incredibly unfortunate and myopic.

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