Pharmacy Assistants Conference 2015: news

The AJP is reporting from the Pharmacy Assistants Conference 2015, held at the QT Hotel on the Gold Coast.

While the 6CPA was overall “fabulous” for pharmacy, the income pharmacies will make from scripts is set to decline, Malcolm Scrymgeour from Zumo Retail has told the conference.

This means that as well as providing excellent customer service, pharmacy assistants will need to help grow OTC sales, he says.

Working smarter – doing more with the same resources – making sure that the right staff are in the roles where they perform best – and improving the customer’s in store experience are key, Scrymgeour says.

He advised pharmacy assistants to become flexible in the roles they can take on – encouraging them to become a dispensary technician even if they are better in a customer-facing role, because it helps the pharmacy manage peak periods and adds value to the business.


Employees are increasingly using social media such as Facebook to post negative comments about employers, the Guild’s Tina Scrine says.

She told the conference that if a personal page damages the reputation of the company and other employees, an owner can take action if they move swiftly. Scrine says companies need social media policies which are understood by staff and to which they agree – and know the consequences if they breach it.

She says that if customers post negative comments they must be responded to.

“People like to feel they have been heard.”

She says any social media needs rules around privacy, security and content, which pharmacy teams must be familiar and compliant with.


Adrian Stoll from McKerrell Pharmacies Goodna told the conference about the challenges faced by the pharmacy and the community following the devastation of the 2011 floods, and the pharmacy’s rebuilding strategy.

Its loyalty program aimed to have a thousand customers with their scripts on file (the pharmacy had previously had 184); two days ago it reached 2001. A customer focus included bringing the pharmacists forward.

“We made sure that where possible we always had a pharmacist on the schedules counter. They recognise the value of bringing our health professionals together with our customers.”

Customers and staff are now involved in planning events and expos at the pharmacy to rebuild community connection. The store then worked on an interactive local area marketing calendar on top of what the DDS brand is doing, a practice he recommends to keep pharmacies focused.


Kos Sclavos says the Guild is fighting the “lunacy” of the codeine up scheduling decision as part of a discussion on the growing resources needed for the health budget.

He says he can almost guarantee that consumers who use codeine-containing medicines will generate three extra doctor visits per year, in an already stretched system.

“And the doctor should, if they’re doing the right thing, should only give that person one pack of 20 Panadeine or Nurofen Plus” with no repeats.

Sclavos says this is unlikely to happen.

“The person who works round the system will say, ‘I’ve had to pay $70 for this, you don’t bulk bill, can I have three or four repeats’.

“They’ll walk out of there with five repeats and then go to another doctor. And it still won’t be monitored.”

He says there are a lot of unused opportunities in pharmacy services.

“I don’t think pharmacy triages patients to these services,” he told the conference. He says pharmacies should make better use of its pharmacy assistants.

“It’s your pharmacy assistants who know who’s on on five or more medicines, or who’s trying to self medicate and trying to take complementary medicines on top of those medicines.”


Pharmacy Assistant of the year 2014 Dimity Doddridge has opened the Pharmacy Assistants Conference and introduced the eight state finalists:

Erin Pavy, ACT

Lisa Ryan, NSW

Chelsea Beard, NT

Julie Warhurst, Qld

Angela Kay, SA

Kylie Richardson, Tas

Emilie Hodgins, Vic

Tracy Lowthorpe, WA


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