Employers should accept responsibility for conditions in community pharmacy and fix the issues

The PDA responds to reports that employers’ body Community Pharmacy Scotland is seeking to prevent pharmacists from securing GP practice based roles in Scotland.

Thu 2nd September 2021 The PDA

The employers’ representative body, Community Pharmacy Scotland, is reportedly seeking to temporarily block pharmacists from securing alternative employment in GP practices. This would be a mechanism used to prevent those individuals from leaving their roles in community pharmacy. The PDA are disappointed with what appears to be another high-profile example of the representatives of community pharmacy employers seeking to avoid their members’ responsibility for improving the terms and working conditions they offer to pharmacists.

This latest development in Scotland follows a joint report in June from the three major UK community pharmacy employer bodies, AIMp, CCA and NPA which noted “reasons cited for colleagues leaving the profession are complex and multifaceted. They include concerns about pay, excessive workload and pressure, inflexible working hours, and a lack of opportunities for career progression”, but failed to commit to, or even to recommend, any actions by employers to improve these conditions.

Employed pharmacists are increasingly aware of the reduction in the value of the pay being offered by community pharmacy employers. They understand that unless pay increases keep up with inflation the buying power of their salary reduces in real terms. Many pharmacy employers promote the belief that there is a significant shortage of pharmacists, yet then continue with an approach to pay that will further reduce the real-term value of the pay they offer. This defies the basic laws of economics that if demand outstrips supply, then “prices”, or in this case “pay” rates, should increase.

However, levels of pay are not the only concern and it is widely known that some pharmacists have left community pharmacy for roles practicing elsewhere in the health system. Although some of these roles are lower paid they are more attractive overall due to the mix of job content, environment and working patterns when compared to roles in community pharmacy.

The PDAs Safer Pharmacies Charter and annual Safer Pharmacies Survey highlight other areas of significant concern to pharmacists, but to date no major community pharmacy employer has agreed to ensure their pharmacies meet the basic safety standards detailed in the charter. The PDA believe that multiple chains should not ignore that some locums publicly state that they will not work in certain branches, or for entire companies, because they believe the conditions in those pharmacies are unacceptable.

The PDA believe responsible employers faced with this reality would reflect hard on what that means, identify the causes of such concerns, and improve the situation. Instead, the representatives of community pharmacy employers seem to consider everything else except addressing those root causes that are within their control. Many promote the ideology of being an employer of choice, however, the reality appears to be quite the opposite. Therefore, It is not a surprise that some may struggle to find pharmacists prepared to be employed for the rates they want to pay and in the conditions in which they expect pharmacists to practice.

The PDA represent employed and locum pharmacists in all areas of practice and Paul Day, PDA Director said: “Attempting to restrict pharmacists’ career options, so that individuals don’t have alternative opportunities is not the right way to recruit and retain more employed pharmacists in the community pharmacy workforce.

Community pharmacy employers should focus on improving the attractiveness of the jobs they offer instead.

Improving the balance between the focus on patient care and safety vs. profit; levels of remuneration and workplace pressure; and the level of respect for the pharmacist as a clinical health professional are all examples of factors that are well within the control of employers.”

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Related link

PDAs Safer Pharmacies Charter

 

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