The division of labour

Opinions and concerns of pharmacy owners and employees now more divergent than ever before

There is now a wider gulf in the views of pharmacy owners and employee pharmacists than there has ever been, if the 2017 UTS Pharmacy Barometer is any guide.

The seventh iteration of the annual survey of the views of community pharmacists shows an increasing split between owners and employees on most issues.

Overall, confidence among respondents was up 5% from the 2016 survey (to the highest level in the seven years of the barometer). However there was a sharp divide within the profession, with owners’ confidence up from 5.5 to 5.9 out of 10 while employee pharmacists’ confidence was down from 5.29 to 5.13 out of 10.

Only 7% of employee pharmacists expressed optimism in the future viability of community-based pharmacy, compared to 15% of owners and owner managers. In contrast, 20% of employees expressed pessimism, compared to 12% of owners.

In almost all other measures, there was the same split in opinion between these groups. Owners and owner managers had the greatest level of confidence in the economic impact of the 6CPA. The latter group also had less optimism in the 6CPA on a professional level.

One of the most significant divides was in the answers to the question ‘How well prepared are you to deal with an OTC codeine abuser?’ While 56% of owners said they were prepared for this, only 43% of employed pharmacists agreed with this.

The opinion gap was even reflected in views on the impact of Primary Health Care Networks on pharmacy – with employed pharmacists more likely to foresee professional and economic impact.  

“The difference in levels of satisfaction between different types of pharmacist create a challenge for the profession,” said Professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj, Professor of Pharmacy Practice and head of the UTS Graduate School of Health.

“How can the profession move forward when we employ people who feel terrible about the job they are doing in many cases? They’re not happy with the relatively poor wages. And owners are then expecting them to offer professional services on top of everything else.”

“2016 was the first year we noticed this split between owners and employees, and its got worse in 2017, not better,” Professor Benrimoj said.

Former PSA national president, Warwick Plunkett said, “owners and managers are happy obtaining more funding for the older CPA remunerated services while employees remain disappointed that their professional and remuneration opportunities have again been ignored.”


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