Respondents to an AJP poll were concerned about pay, but those on the frontline had nothing but positive things to say
Supercare Pharmacies are a new concept in Australia, enabling 24-hour community access to pharmacists for advice, supply of medicines and dispensing of prescriptions, as well as additional services.
There are currently 12 Supercare Pharmacies across Victoria, with a further eight to roll out by mid-2018.
A recent AJP poll asked pharmacists: What do you think about Supercare pharmacies?
In the biggest poll response, nearly half (43%) of respondents had financial and professional concerns, querying why they wouldn’t be getting paid extra money despite offering additional advice and services.
A third of respondents said they would only work night shifts if penalty rates were paid at the full rate and not cut as per the Fair Work Commission’s decision this year.
However 28% said they’d be happy to work the night shift due to the flexibility and extra money.
Twenty-nine percent said Supercare pharmacies were a great idea, helping to ease the burden on emergency departments.
A further 23% agreed it was a positive move for the industry, leading to more jobs for pharmacists and staff.
Fifty people (18%) said they didn’t see the need for so many of them, while the same amount said Supercare Pharmacies were a “terrible idea” as they would add even more workload to pharmacists than they can already manage.
Just thirteen people (5%) responded that they already worked at a Supercare Pharmacy.
More jobs and flexibility for staff
Emma Nikkerud, pharmacist manager at UFS Dispensaries in Ballarat in regional Victoria, says the transition to a 24-hour Supercare Pharmacy has been both rewarding and challenging.
“Basically the staffing levels have had to increase significantly,” Ms Nikkerud tells AJP.
“Our staff here have coped really well. We’re lucky to have some techs that are studying during the day and are happy to do night shifts.
“As a larger group, we’ve been reasonably lucky to have a pool of pharmacists to draw from, as some of our pharmacists work in other pharmacies too.”
She says challenges include days when “tricky” problems arise.
“We’ve had to come up with ways to problem solve when we haven’t been able to contact doctors [out of work hours], to check scripts they’ve written or if a patient comes in with something tricky,” says Ms Nikkerud.
“However they can always go to emergency if we can’t help or get in touch with a doctor.
“We’ve got the nursing service that’s brought more people into the store. It’s very well utilised, and has become more and more popular as people have found out about it.”
She says the pharmacy has taken on more referrals from the nearby Ballarat Base and St John of God Ballarat hospitals, as well as requests for palliative care medicines.
“Ballarat is quite big now but we’re still a country town. Once people found out about the 24-hour service, they’ve really embraced it.”
More than a year since Ascot Vale Pharmacy transformed into a Supercare Pharmacy, there have been some significant changes, says pharmacist Mina Elmalek.
For example, the staff had to undergo extensive additional training in order to provide further services in the pharmacy.
“Because we’ve become an overnight pharmacy, there’s been more of an emphasis on staff training. Experts have come in to train the staff on all aspects of the pharmacy, for example in wound care, among other things,” Mr Elmalek tells AJP.
“The pharmacy has also become more patient-focused.
“Overnight we see people come in directly from the hospital. There are more mothers and fathers coming in, having trouble with their little baby.
“Or people anxious about their medication or with their dosing and can’t sleep – we get a lot of calls about this as well.”
Mr Elmalek says that the transition to a Supercare Pharmacy has gone smoothly for the pharmacy.
“It’s definitely been a positive for the community and a positive transition for the staff – we have a very supportive team here at Ascot Vale.”
Current 12 Supercare Pharmacy locations
- Ascot Vale – Ascot Vale Pharmacy.
- Ballarat – UFS Dispensaries.
- Balwyn – Balwyn Day and Night Pharmacy.
- Bendigo – Bendigo UFS Pharmacies.
- Coburg – Coburg Pharmacy 4 Less.
- Craigieburn – Amcal Pharmacy.
- Curlewis – Curlewis Pharmacy 4 Less.
- Parkmore – Parkmore Pharmacy 4 Less.
- Reservoir – Reservoir Pharmacy 4 Less.
- Traralgon – Traralgon Chemist Warehouse.
- Wantirna South – Pharmacy@Knox.
- Yarraville – Carnovale Pharmacy.
Upcoming eight Supercare Pharmacy locations (to be fully operating by 30 June 2018)
- Cranbourne North – Cranbourne North Chemist Warehouse.
- Hoppers Crossing – Hoppers Crossing Chemist Warehouse.
- Keilor East – Keilor East Chemist Warehouse.
- Melton – Melton Chemist Warehouse.
- Mildura – Mildura Chemist Warehouse.
- Ringwood – Ringwood Chemist Warehouse.
- Shepparton – Shepparton Chemist Warehouse.
- Parkville – HealthSmart, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.