There’s a reason pharmacists dropped down the list of most-trusted professionals this year, say AJP readers

Pharmacists have always ranked highly in terms of trust, coming towards the top of Roy Morgan’s annual Image of Professions survey.

But this year, pharmacists dropped down the ranks a little.

In 2016, pharmacists ranked alongside doctors at equal second, with an approval rating of 86%. But in 2017, the survey saw doctors’ trust rating increase to 89%, moving them into second place in their own right, while pharmacists slipped to third place, with a lower rating than last year, at 84%.

According to Roy Morgan Research, this makes pharmacists the “odd health-related profession out in 2017”.

Among AJP readers there was a definite consensus as to what’s going on in consumers’ minds.

“Thank you warehouse pharmacies…” wrote Gavin Mingay.

“This drop in credibility and trust is directly and unarguably attributable to the proliferation of discount pharmacies in Australia,” wrote John Wilks.

“How can we expect the public to see us as anything other than ‘proud to be cheap’ purveyors of crass merchandising of the 3Ts – toilet rolls, toothpaste and tissues.”

He said that “until the profession returns to a strong clinically focused modus operandi these numbers show little prospective of improving”.

Regular contributor Karalyn Huxhagen agreed.

“As a HMR pharmacist the biggest gripe consumers have is that they get a different generic every time they visit the pharmacy,” she wrote.

“I explain that we are under intense pressure with medication shortages at the moment which makes generic swapping a necessity.

“The consumer sees it as a money grab by the pharmacy. They are led to this understanding by the heavy discounting of services such as immunisation between pharmacy groups and the non-stop media by CW and others that cheaper is available.

“We have an image of being more concerned about the bottom line than we do about better health outcomes.”

Vignesh Lingam wrote that “The dollar discount model accompanied by all the bad publicity and the divisive comments by some pharmacy groups disparaging pharmacies opting not to offer the discount has to have been damaging”.

And Brett the reluctant pharmacist said, “I think we can consider ourselves lucky that we scored as high as we did… pharmacies that look like two dollar shops can’t possibly inspire confidence from the public”.

Geoff saw the result more positively: “Such gloomy comments about a great result. Pharmacists are still some of the most trusted and more available than any of the others. A 2 % variation in a survey over a year would have to be considered insignificant- pollsters haven’t had much success recently a la Trump, Brexit and UK elections. We are rated in the top percentile and have done for a long time- it is great to be part of such a highly regarded profession.”