Strengthen CPAs to improve pay: Jackson

PSA president Dr Shane Jackson has called for a “much stronger” 7CPA to ensure better pay for pharmacists

Last week the union for employee pharmacists released its latest remuneration report, which showed that pharmacists are the lowest paid of a range of health professionals.

The average community pharmacist earns only $66,955 a year, the data revealed – compared to $191,599 for psychiatrists, $156,431 for GPs and $71,900 for nurses.

At the time PPA warned that “low pay is dragging community pharmacy down and placing the future of the profession at risk”.

Now Dr Jackson says the pharmacist wage data simply confirms what PSA has been saying for some time.

“We raised this issue last year at PSA16 and have been talking about it ever since,” he told the AJP.

“A key finding of PSA’s recently released Early Career Pharmacist (ECP) White Paper showed inadequate remuneration was the single largest issue identified by ECPs—and the biggest challenge facing the pharmacy profession.

“Low wages in community pharmacy are a direct result of price disclosure hitting community pharmacy as negotiated between the Pharmacy Guild and the Federal Government. We know that when Gross Profit per script is up, pharmacy owners pass those profits on to employees.

“We need a much stronger Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement with all parties around the table—including PSA—to create better outcomes for consumers, adequate remuneration for the profession and ensure delivery of programs and services are focused on health outcomes.”

Dr Jackson says that the profession also needs to look outside of Government and Community Pharmacy Agreements to new roles and new remuneration.

“PSA has been working tirelessly to secure funds to expand pharmacist roles and remuneration, including through the Primary Health Networks, in areas such as minor ailments, General Practice pharmacy and by integrating pharmacists in Aboriginal Health Services.

“There is no quick fix to this. If we are to address this important issue, a longer term strategy is needed – and that’s why PSA is leading the 10 Year Action Plan for Pharmacist Practice in Australia to scale-up new roles and new remuneration, for the benefit of consumers.”

Several AJP readers also responded to the remuneration figures.

“Why would you waste 4 years of Uni studies as well as a full year of internship to land such a terrible career prospect?” asked John.

“My friends from high school that went on to study accounting/commerce for only 3 years in uni (which at my time required a significantly lower score) are now earning at least minimum $120k per annum not including bonuses! Seriously things need to change.

“I think its almost time i jump ship as well to be honest.”

And Stephanie Bennet pointed out that “low wages are only part of the problem—not having breaks and working 11 hour days probably fails the fair work test”.

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