Poll: How can pharmacy raise wages?

piggy bank, money and calculator

Wages for pharmacists are a source of significant tension in the industry – but what would be the best way to improve them?

One of the strongest themes emerging from submissions to the King Review is that of low wages for community pharmacists—to the point where many say they are considering leaving the profession.

“Next time you save someone’s life by preventing a fatal drug interaction, remember you’re worth less than a check out chick,” commented reader Guildman Sachs on a recent AJP story.

And BlinkyBill wrote, “The pay and conditions for supermarket shop assistants are pretty much akin to the appalling pharmacist’s conditions now. Not bad pay for someone who didn’t put in five years of study, no HECS debts, no loss of pay due to full-time study and no responsibility of ODing someone…”

But what do you think would be the best way to fix the issue and increase wages? Tick all the options you think apply.

Previous Lessons in risk minimisation
Next The week in review

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


  1. worried

    the government needs to reduce the number of Pharmacies from 5,000 to 3,000 so that these businesses are able to make a profit and pay their staff appropriately.

    • The Cynic

      You know that this had been the unwritten agenda for some time now Worried.Less pharmacies operating as high volume, low cost dispensing factories. Think of pharmacy 10 years ago. Think of what it looks like today.
      We are already well down that path.

      • worried

        lets hope we are both involved with one of the 3,000 who survive but make no mistake 75% of them with be CW. I agree with your logic and I also believe this is our future as the government has no money . They are struggling to pay for medicare hospitals disability etc etc.
        We have to be realistic and stop putting the hand out.

  2. William

    It is mainly a result of the deregulation of the universities that has produced a lot of excess “graduates” with concomitant lowering of standards and is not isolated to pharmacy; it is evident in all areas, talk to law graduates etc. Arts graduates have experienced this for decades.
    Now every man and his dog has a so-called “degree”, most of which are useless in getting a job.
    It comes down to supply and demand on one hand as well as changing environment caused by technology.
    Pharmacy is struggling to find a place especially with the automation that will be further introduced rendering them irrelevant.
    Most would have been better joining a supermarket or department store as a trainee where they would have got good exposure to marketing and selling which is where the good salaries and perks are.
    Alternatively they should have learnt a trade.
    Never be afraid of changing your occupation, go and get an accounting diploma or something else associated with money.
    Bellyaching about the government, the bosses, the supermarkets etc will not solve the problem.
    For younger ones, face up to it, you made a wrong choice, go and do something else. Your first discipline should not and will not be your last.

    • The Cynic

      I have to agree William. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest a change in the current trajectory. For those young enough, and even for those of us who are too old a change in career should be seriously considered. The numbers are working against you….

      • worried

        I also agree with both these comments……

  3. Slim Jim

    Reduce the number of pharmacy graduates.
    17 (or is it now 18?) pharmacy schools churning out thousands of low-quality graduates every year is not helping an argument for better wages.

    Remove pharmacy from the approved list for migrants (has this has already been done?).
    This only contributes to workforce over-supply and thus low wages (don’t use rural/regional job opportunities to counter this point – not many people, Australian-born or migrant want this lifestyle choice!).

    Limit pharmacy ownership to one pharmacy (or an ‘interest’ in only one pharmacy) per registered pharmacist/owner. No interstate or ‘group’ ownership allowed, just one pharmacy per sole owner or partnership only.

    The ‘good times’ for ownership ended in the early 90s and will never return.
    Get used the current landscape – this is as good as it is ever going to be!

    The ‘guvment’, Lib or Lab will never be able to justify throwing more (taxpayer) money at the PBS or a CPA, regardless or who negotiates.

    The only real negotiation point in a CPA is the maintenance of the current ownership restriction (to pharmacists) and they guvment knows this, as does the PGA. So work within this industry restriction of market protection to minimise the trend to a few pharmacists/groups owning many pharmacies. The alternative is open-ownership… and could you really cope with that?

  4. Kevin Hayward

    If a Govt or commercial enterprise is to be persuaded make financial provision for a wage increase, the first question they will ask is “what’s the payback?” Only proposals which offer increased productivity, quality, or reduced costs are likely to be considered. Whilst increasing the award wage sounds the simplest solution, it has the least leverage. Going rural offers the quality option, free market the economic choice and lifting the cap on HMRs increased productivity. KevinH

  5. worried

    I guess if fair work increases the award rate that will achieve the desired number of 3,000 Pharmacies without any government intervention. 74% of you want this. The problem is not all of you will have a job afterwards and many of you will be forced to reeducate yourselves in order to follow a different career path . 2,000 pharmacies will close their doors for ever. Maybe that is what has to happen though.

  6. Stuart Walker

    The situation in Australia, is unfortunately going the same way as in the UK. Nearly 20 years ago, work was plenty, interaction with patients was organic and natural, then came the revision of the pharmacy model, with the sudden (at the time) onset of targeted clinical services (a very worthy addition, but expected to be identified, carried out and add value, when most pharmacists were already under the pump carrying out their traditional role), add to this, increased numbers of pharmacy schools, open European movement of pharmacists giving overseas European Pharmacists the right to work in the UK. both of which have contributed to oversupply and a massive reduction in salaries. I have personally seen salaries DROP 10-25% over the last 15 years and this is just in base monitory terms, not taking into account the increases in cost of living and inflation, This should have been the natural INCREASE in salaries at a bare minimum in that time frame not a reduction!! I have seen many of the multiples heap more and more pressure on experienced (COSTLY) branch managers who have established themselves in communities to subversively force them out in to a lower paying relief role and ensconce a recently qualified or an overseas pharmacist (not inferring an inferior pharmacist/service) into the vacant role (cheaper more cost effective alternative), yes, margins are being cut and the market is more competitive but experience and loyal service are now luxuries the bottom line does not understand and pharmacists are becoming a simple statistical line in a profit and loss account to the business. Has the ‘profession’ really improved over the last 15 years?…… debatable and although new opportunities are opening up in clinical based roles, the number in relation to the core base of pharmacists in community is relatively small. Leaving a lot of pharmacists both newly qualified and experienced feeling overworked and undervalued. As seen in the UK, coming to Australia soon, some may say already arrived. Addressing oversupply and effective remuneration are key to a profession that is healthy and adds value.

Leave a reply