PSA has this week lodged two major submissions addressing pharmacist remuneration.
The first is our response to the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce, where we put forward a number of proposals to better use exisiting MBS services by harnessing fully the knowledge, skills and accessibility of pharmacists.
The second is our submission to the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) four yearly review of the Pharmacy Industry Award 2010, where we state that current remuneration should be increased to reflect accredited pharmacists’ additional training, experience and responsibility.
PSA has commented primarily on the Taskforce’s recommendations relating to chronic disease management items, medication management items and access to repeat scripts, as well as other recommendations where pharmacists’ practice may impact on holistic care of patients.
PSA welcomes the following recommendations by the Taskforce, which relate to some of the proposals submitted by PSA:
- Rebate participation in case conferencing for non-GP health professionals (Recommendation 9 of the Committee)
- Allow non-dispensing pharmacists to access allied health items (Recommendation 17 of the Allied Health Reference Group).
Our submission highlights that pharmacists are committed to being core members of the healthcare team that delivers high-quality, patient-centred primary care. Integration of pharmacists in collaborative primary care teams will benefit patients through improved access to timely and more seamless care, particularly in relation to the management of chronic diseases as well as medication management.
PSA has called for accredited pharmacists who are required to perform Residential Medication Management Reviews (RMMR) or Home Medicines Reviews (HMR), and any other services which may in future be required to be done by an accredited pharmacist, to be paid an extra 18% of the minimum weekly wage applicable to a pharmacist on top of their award rate.
The additional 18%, which would be paid as an allowance, would place their award rate between pharmacist-in-charge and pharmacist manager. Pharmacy owners would not be required to pay this loading if the pharmacist is not required to perform RMMRs or HMRs.
Earlier this month, PSA released our Pharmacists in 2023 report with the goal of ensuring pharmacists are recognised and appropriately remunerated to reflect their training, expertise and quality patient care. An important part of this is making sure pharmacists are appropriately remunerated for undertaking professional services that require them to hold an accredited pharmacist qualification.
PSA has also asked the President of the FWC to consider the discrepancy between pharmacists’ extensive qualifications and their award rate.
We have a complete disconnect where the award rate for pharmacists, who have completed a four-year degree to become medicines experts, is lower than that of manufacturing workers with a diploma-level education.
The inadequate remuneration for pharmacists fails to recognise the time they have devoted to education so they can deliver high-quality healthcare services. Increasing remuneration will reflect pharmacists’ vital contribution to the health system and help the pharmacy profession retain our best and brightest.