Most pharmacists want CPA negotiations to change: poll

Pharmacists are dissatisfied with the way Community Pharmacy Agreements are negotiated, an AJP poll reveals

Earlier this month, AJP ran a poll asking how you feel the CPAs should be negotiated: should the current arrangement, with the negotiations between the Government and the Guild, be maintained?

This is one of the 140 questions posed by the King Review’s Discussion Paper, which asks whether it is appropriate that the Guild continues to negotiate formal remuneration agreements with the Government on behalf of, or to the exclusion of, other parties involved.

The response to our poll was overwhelming: you’re not satisfied.

Only 16% of the 366 (at the time of writing) respondents said the current arrangements were ideal, with another 2% saying they aren’t ideal but there are no better alternatives.

Eight per cent felt that the CPAs should be negotiated between the Guild, Government and PSA; another 1% felt that the Government should negotiate with the Guild as well as non-member pharmacy owners.

But a whopping 70% – 255 voters – want to see all other stakeholders, including the PSA, non-Guild owners, consumer and pharmacy employee groups sitting at the table with the Guild and Government.

“We think this would be a good idea,” said PPA’s Matt Harris, commenting on the poll results.

“A new form of arrangement needs to take place for future CPA – we would say the system is part professional and part industrial so we believe negotiations could occur with groups such as the Consumers Health Forum, the PSA, the Pharmacy Guild and ourselves.

“We’d be open to alternative approaches, and one might be to establish a panel comprised of those groups for the purposes of negotiating with the Government on pharmacy supply and services.

“We’re quite open to changing a model that’s been around now for about 26 years, and the pharmacy landscape has changed quite dramatically in that time in terms of ownership – there’s now a majority of services that are provided by pharmacists who are employees, so they should have a seat at the table.”

PSA CEO Dr Lance Emerson said PSA would be commenting further on the CPA signatory issue as part of the organisation’s submission to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration & Regulation.

He cited a 6CPA Discussion Paper released in 2014 in which PSA said:

“PSA’s recent survey showed that an enhanced role for PSA in shaping the [Community Pharmacy] Agreements is supported by the profession. Without PSA, there is no voice for the many pharmacists employed within the community pharmacy sector, who in fact make up the largest proportion of the workforce.

“PSA believes that if its advice and input are actively being sought to design the professional programs in 6CPA, then it is only fair and reasonable that PSA be considered as a joint signatory to the parts of the Agreement dealing with professional programs and services.

“Signatory status would of course need to be contingent on PSA being involved as an equal partner/participant in all discussions that relate to the proposed professional programs and services in 6CPA.”

Only 2% of AJP readers want to move away from a partnership arrangement entirely.

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  1. Rory

    If you were negotiating to buy a pharmacy, how would you feel about its income being largely determined by people who were not, like you, mortgaging themselves to the eyeballs to buy the pharmacy? Or paying any of its many, many bills? ie the pharmacy employees, the pen-pushers in the professional groups, even the mouthpieces of the government known as consumer groups? These people would control your pharmacy income, without ever having to take the risks that you did to buy it. How fair is that? And yes, we are talking amounts of more than $1 000 000. This communist tendency has gone far enough. A society which values equality above freedom, as people seem to be arguing here, will have neither. Read George Orwell’s book, ‘1984’.

    • Red Pill

      You should have thought of that when you paid your pharmacists $28/hr for over a decade. Guild’s short sightedness has permanently divided the profession. If work conditions don’t improve in the next 12 months via fair works commission, expect majority of community pharmacists to vote for deregulation.

      There’ll always be large corporations with deeper pockets than you that can risk it all and still pay a decent wage.

      Sorry, but the red pill is always hard to digest.

      • Rory

        Currently the lowest wages for pharmacists($22-$25 / hr) are paid by the biggest pharmacy chain. So what makes you think an even bigger chain, will be any less miserly? Sorry mate, but they’ve already seen you coming, with your rose-coloured glasses and starry eyes. And by the way, I have had to digest the red pill already for years, with increased competition, PBS cuts, a 70-hour week for myself, and the stone-cold fact that there aren’t many available pharmacists now. (due to lack of prospects) I’ve never paid less than $35 / hr full-time or $40 / hr for locums. But you don’t want to believe that, so I’ll make it easy for you: all owners make millions every year, they don’t do any work themselves, they’re never stressed, they don’t owe the banks any money, but enjoy being mean to their totally loyal, long-suffering staff, who do absolutely all the work for the owners, whilst never phoning in sick or hung over, and when the revolution comes, these mean owners will all get their just desserts. Oh, and the supermarkets will of course be falling over themselves to offer 9-to-5 pharmacists $60 / hour normal rate, all the time. Do you feel better now? Cos’ you know that’s how it really is, don’t you?

        • United we stand

          I think there’s been enough discussions from both sides of the fence about the troubles facing both owners & employees alike. Both sides are doing it tough. No doubts about it. So lets talk about how we can fix it. Here’s what I think will fix most of our problems:

          1. Raise minimum wage to $35/hr. This is a must. Most independent pharmacies (such as yourself) are paying these wages anyways. The big chains will just have to get used to it.

          2. Form a body made up of the Guild, PSA, AACP and PPA to create a 21st Century blueprint on how to keep community pharmacy viable in 2020 and beyond. Together these 4 organisations represent the entire industry so it is as democratic as it can be.

          3. Design platforms that allow clinical and monitoring services provided by pharmacies to be claimed from private insurers such Medibank, BUPA, etc.

          4. Limit number of university intakes. The easiest way is capping the number of internship registrations per calendar year. This is already being done in medicine.

          These are my ideas anyways. Looking forward to reading everyone elses.

  2. Rory

    Thank you – good advice.

    • worried

      The Truth is correct only 12 % of Pharmacies are independent and I predict that figure will decrease even more in the coming years.

      • The Truth

        No worries. Im glad that my advice is read. The wholesalers have so much control over the pharmacy market as it stands via banner groups. And they continue to make things harder for owners, who I can clearly see have enough on their plate already. It really pays to do your research. Several owners I have spoken will be looking at switching in the near future. A few I know have actually switched to independent once they have established a loyal customer (yes I said customer, not patient; I like to call things how they are!) base. It is suprising how competitive pricing can be via certain independent channels. Once you factor in ZERO allocations, franchise fees and all the silly unecessaries – the profit advantages all become clear.
        What I would like to ultimately see is a wholesaler that supports the independents 100% so that owners can see that their dollars are not going to fund other discount groups.

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