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Workforce group pledges to review wording on pharmacist salary prospects following criticism

The Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group (CPWDG) has pledged to review the much-disputed wording on salary information for newly registered pharmacists on its website, it has told C+D.

The CPWDG cross-sector working group told C+D today (October 8) it “will be reviewing the wording surrounding salary information on the website”, after the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) and pharmacists from across the UK voiced their concerns over its suggested starting salary for community pharmacists.

The CPWDG – which brings together representatives from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) - launched the Community Pharmacy Careers website last month (September 22), in an effort to educate the public about the opportunities offered by a career in community pharmacy.

A webpage dedicated to community pharmacists, which has since been taken down, suggested that “a newly qualified pharmacist can expect to earn around £25,000-£35,000 per year. This may rise to over £50,000 depending on experience, qualifications, and where in the UK you are working”.


Just £12.02 per hour


In a statement published last night (October 7), the PDA said that this would equate to “a potential starting salary of just £12.02 per hour for a fully qualified pharmacist”.

Mary Rehman, one of the 2021/22 clinical fellows of the chief pharmaceutical officer’s scheme tweeted: “Equivalent to £12 an hour? Wow. five years' hard work and training. That’s demeaning a whole profession right there. Cleaners get more than that in London. Why bother with the five years of student fees and debt just for the title. Madness.”

While, Darren Powell – clinical lead at NHS Digital and chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s digital pharmacy expert advisory group - said: “Let's hope that it is a typographical error. This wouldn’t entice me as a graduate.”


CPWDG: “Opportunity to work with the PDA” welcomed


A spokesperson for CPWDG told C+D: “We would like to thank the PDA for drawing this issue to our attention. We will be reviewing the wording surrounding salary information on the website.

“The Community Pharmacy Careers website is designed to showcase the range of exciting and fast-paced career opportunities working in community pharmacy offers and we are proud to have collaborated with early career community pharmacists and pharmacy students in its development. As an employer group, we are passionate about community pharmacy; and we look forward to welcoming the next generation of colleagues to the profession.

“We would welcome an opportunity to work with the PDA to promote community pharmacy as a positive and rewarding career choice, and present young people with an interest in health and science with the resources to pursue a role in community pharmacy, where they can make a difference to patients’ lives.” 


PDA: Employers not “fixing the problems”


The PDA said in its statement yesterday that it had “delayed commenting” on the salary suggestion “in the hope this was a typographical error that would be soon corrected”.

It added: “Existing pharmacists are constantly raising the real issues that need addressing in community pharmacy, but employers seem intent on doing everything other than fixing the problems, which only they have the ability to change.”

Pharmacist pay has dropped “significantly compared to inflation”, the PDA said.

“The website appears to be the latest unhelpful contribution from employer representative bodies despite their claims that they want to recruit more pharmacists,” it said.

In June, the CPWDG released a report reviewing the community pharmacy workforce, which raised concerns about “a potential workforce crisis that is driven by difficulties in both recruiting and retaining colleagues”.

According to the C+D Salary Survey 2020 – which ran from October 19 to December 10 – more than half of respondents (54%) also said their staffing levels were “quite low”, while 15% said they were “so low they were dangerous”.


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