Unrewarding award for pharmacists

The decision by the Fair Work Commission to stagnate the minimum safety net pay rate for community pharmacists is a completely inadequate reflection of the complex work that pharmacists do, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) says.

PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman said, “It is very clear to PSA that the current pharmacy award rate of just over $27 per hour does not reflect the profession’s significant training, expertise and accountability.

“While an increase in the award rate is necessary, PSA is cognisant that it should be considered within the context of the broader pharmacy sector and should be met with, at least, a corresponding increase to funding into the pharmacy sector so any base wage increases are affordable.

“We urge all pharmacists to discuss fair remuneration with their employers when accepting employment and at regular intervals.”

Dr Freeman said the Fair Work Commission ruling was concerned with determining the minimum wage and conditions for pharmacists rather than reflecting the full value of pharmacists as medicines experts.

“Pharmacists need to be appropriately remunerated for their significant training as healthcare professionals with the most expertise in the quality use of medicines,” he said.

“The recent case PSA put to the Fair Work Commission focused on the change in the scope of practice for the pharmacy profession. While we have seen some increase in the scope of practice of pharmacists, many of the ‘new’ activities are simply a fulfillment of scope of practice.

“Our health system has seen a significant change in the complexity of health problems faced by patients and pharmacists are now practising at a deeper and more intense level.

“PSA supports the Fair Work Commission’s acknowledgement that there has been an increase in the work value of pharmacists who perform Home Medicines Reviews and Residential Medication Management Reviews and notes that the Commission has invited further submissions on this issue.”

Dr Freeman said, “The role of pharmacists will continue to evolve as pharmacists take more responsibility and accountability for medicines management in the future. Pharmacist remuneration needs to increase to reflect this.

“PSA is committed to increasing pharmacist remuneration and a sustainable model for community pharmacy. It is vital that the Government ensures that investment in community pharmacy significantly increases.”