The wages of Australia’s community pharmacists are stagnating with the 2013/14 Community Pharmacist Survey showing that average hourly base pay rates have risen by a mere 23 cents per hour since 2009.
Professional Pharmacists Australia president Dr Geoff March said the survey of more than 2,672 pharmacists provided “solid evidence” for what many in the sector already suspected.
“This research shows that community pharmacy wages are going nowhere.”
“It is highly concerning that the average community pharmacist is earning the same as they did five years ago.
The survey reported average hourly base rates for four community pharmacy roles: Pharmacists; Experienced Pharmacists; Pharmacists-in-charge and Pharmacist managers (see Graph 2).
The rates for Pharmacists have risen from $34.38 in 2011 to $34.86 in 2013, a rise of 48 cents in three years. In contrast in 2013 alone, science and technical professions typically received pay increases in the range of 3-4 per cent and average Australians saw their wages increase by 2.5 per cent (Wage Price Index) and the CPI rose by 2.7 per cent.
The rates for Experienced Pharmacists moved from $38.08 in 2011 to $37.78 in 2013, a drop of 30 cents (see Graph 2). While Pharmacist-in-Charge rates grew by 22 cents from $38.02 in 2009 to $38.24 in 2013, and Pharmacist Manager rates grew from $37.59 in 2009 to $41.15 in 2013 (see Graph 2).
The survey also found that more than one in five (21.5 per cent) community pharmacists reported not receiving a pay rise in four or more years.
“Falling wages and poor conditions make it very difficult to attract and retain community pharmacists and that presents real problems for patient healthcare.
The survey revealed a growing divide between the hospital and community pharmacy. 89.9 per cent of hospital pharmacists reported having received a pay increase in the last two years, while only 55.4 per cent of community pharmacists reported receiving an increase in the same period.
“Our community, industry and economy, simply can’t afford for community pharmacists to struggle to make a living.
Dr March said that reform was long overdue and that it was time for politicians and policy makers to adopt new models, with better value for their investment and better outcomes for the community.
“In 2014, we have a one-in-twenty-year opportunity to reshape community pharmacy and create a viable pharmacy model that supports consumer health, and decent salaries, conditions and career progression for community pharmacists.
“We see the negotiation of the next $15.6 billion Community Pharmacy Agreement and the Fair Work Commission's (FWC) review of the Pharmacy Industry Award as opportunities for community pharmacists to tell decision makers what they need, to make things work.
“Both CPA6 and the Pharmacy Industry Award review will have long lasting impacts on the sustainability of the profession, how community pharmacists work and what they get paid.
“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.
“We will be advocating actively and loudly for the ideas and needs of community pharmacists to Government and throughout the community.