What’s in it for me?

Pharmacists are increasingly vocal in their complaints about pay and conditions, especially in the community sector 

Pharmacy has proved its value, indeed its necessity, to the Australian public and government repeatedly over the past 18 months or so.

The unprecedented series of crises and disasters we’ve faced have shown how indispensable a community pharmacy network, and a hospital pharmacist workforce is to the nation’s health.

And as we all know, pharmacists are playing an ever greater clinical role, in an ever widening scope of practice. This is all to the good as people’s skills, education and training are put to the uses they are there for.

However, all this will be to naught if the current abysmally low rates of pay continue to fester as an issue for the profession, especially in community pharmacy.

In early March, the issue of pay rates for employed pharmacists again raised its head with a PPA report showing pharmacy graduates had the lowest average rate of pay.

Earlier this year, a Monash University study showed that the number of registered, working pharmacists in Australia is growing at a substantially lower rate than the total of all other registered health professions. And student numbers are starting to fall.

On top of that, anecdotal reports keep coming in of pharmacists leaving the sector or moving within the sector away from community pharmacy. Many of those with knowledge of this area have told me that they are concerned that many of the best and brightest students are actively not choosing to go down the community pharmacy route.

We were flooded with comments in response to our online coverage of the PPA report, none of which were in any way pleasant reading for those concerned about the sector.

None of this bodes well if we want a skilled, plentiful pharmacist workforce that’s ready and equipped to take on these new and expanding clinical roles.

I know pharmacy owners are doing it tough, but they’ll be doing it a lot tougher if none of their employed pharmacists are willing and able to perform vaccinations or other clinical roles. People certainly won’t be willing if these tasks are added to their usual job load without any reward.

And this is without even mentioning the role of discounters… That’s one for another day….

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