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How to deal with the downward spiral of pharmacy

Pharmacist unemployment is a real issue. An oversupply pushes down wages and quality, and can impact on professionalism.

Following the explosion of universities more than 3,500 students are graduating each year (compared with 1,625 in 2008). This is unfair on graduates and registered pharmacists alike. Now, with more pharmacists than jobs, some employers can pay us as little as they can get away with. If you have a professional disagreement with an employer, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain professional integrity when you know you can be replaced by someone who will play ball.

You can deal with the downwards spiral in two ways: remove the oversupply or look to introduce something that can ensure pharmacists are paid a professional wage.

Remove the oversupply: a high priority for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) should be ensuring there are enough jobs and roles for pharmacists. Pharmacists must be utilised wherever medicines interface, we know this results in better care for the public. The English Pharmacy Board has been effective in securing new jobs for pharmacists in GP surgeries, but there is still more to do for pharmacists in all sectors of healthcare.

The English Pharmacy Board has also been strong enough to stand against those who would change the supervision laws that would result in community pharmacies without pharmacists. Elect the wrong board members and that is what you will get!

We should be working closely with organisations like the Pharmacists’ Defence Association and the Locum Pharmacist Cooperative to ensure pharmacists are paid a professional wage. Is it too much to ask that, in 2017, a pharmacist should not be paid less than £21 per hour? Is it too much to aspire to a minimum of £25 per hour? The reality is some pharmacists are having to work for less than £15 per hour and the situation is getting worse!

If we are to make a significant impact as the English Pharmacy Board, then we will need to push back against people who will say it is not within our remit to tread in these areas. We cannot sit on the sidelines knowing that there are no solutions being worked through that will truly deliver what is needed.

Is it too much to ask for respect for being the healthcare professionals that we are, a fair wage and a working environment with a reasonable workload where we can look after patients?

Martin Astbury

Election candidate, English Pharmacy Board,

Royal Pharmaceutical Society

The candidate letters for the RPS national pharmacy board elections have not been edited by The Pharmaceutical Journal

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202736

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