Never before has community pharmacy been faced with more challenges – or had more opportunities – to address the problems it faces.
As any community pharmacist will tell you – this is a profession with its challenges.
Here is what we know. Salaries are going backwards. Working conditions are being eroded. And the new normal is that community pharmacists work longer, harder and regrettably, without much hope for career progression.
Community pharmacists now have to dispense more, and care for patients less. Simultaneously pharmacy owners stare down reduced profits, as price disclosure provisions accelerate and bite. And a steady stream of hopeful young pharmacy grads scrabble to find a job, any job.
So, what is most at risk from these systemic failures? Reduced patient care? The loss of satisfying career opportunities? The loss of expertise, as pharmacists leave what is almost an untenable profession? The answer unfortunately is this, and more.
However, this year we have a one-in-twenty year opportunity to reshape community pharmacy – a profession that so many of us, want to thrive.
Our first opportunity for change is in the Fair Work Commission's (FWC) review of the Pharmacy Industry Award, the law that sets the base pay and conditions for community pharmacists.
Decisions made by the FWC will have long lasting impacts on the sustainability of the profession, how pharmacists work and what they get paid. Putting it plainly, pharmacists need to get active and break the shackles of fear to make submissions and voice concerns. This is an opportunity pharmacists cannot afford to miss.
This year also heralds the start of negotiations toward a new Community Pharmacy Agreement (CPA 6), the framework negotiated between the Government and the Pharmacy Guild that determines how $15.4 billion worth of taxpayer’s money is allocated across pharmacy.
We believe that community pharmacists need to have a strong voice in both these processes, so that we end up with a viable pharmacy model that supports consumer health as well as decent salaries, conditions and career progression for community pharmacists.
We will be advocating actively and loudly for the ideas and needs of community pharmacists to Government and throughout the community. We know that community pharmacists can play a big role in improving the health outcomes for patients. We need change so that we can unlock the professional knowledge and capacity of community pharmacists.
Here’s the rub. Reform in community pharmacy is long overdue in Australia. We are well behind comparable western countries who have embraced new ways of working. We can deliver more to patients. We believe it is time for politicians and policy makers to adopt new models, with better value for their investment and better outcomes for the community.
So, community pharmacists have a choice: You can watch the industry continue to deteriorate or, you can seize this opportunity and help shape a better future by supporting our campaign.
Tell us what you want to see – please fill in our Future of Pharmacy survey: