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Average pharmacy dispenser salary rises to £16,486

Almost all dispensary assistants said they have high stress levels

The average salary of a pharmacy dispensary assistant working full time has reached £16,486, according to the C+D Salary Survey 2019.

The average salary of the 222 dispensers who responded to C+D’s Salary Survey 2019 and work between 35 and 45 hours a week increased by £701, from £15,785 in 2018 to £16,486.

Some 70% of dispensers who completed the survey said they were dissatisfied with their pay. Out of these, 78% blamed their dissatisfaction on their employer, while 19% blamed the government for “not giving pharmacy enough funding”.

Of the respondents, 34% believe they should earn 6-10% more than their current salary, while another 38% said they should earn 3-5% more.

One dispensary assistant said: “Pay for dispensers should not be less than a checkout operator considering the risk involved.”

Another said: “Pay for dispensers is usually not enough to support living in London.”

One respondent said they were “given the lowest pay possible, for an important job that is highly stressful as [there is] not enough staff”.

Enter your details into C+D's salary calculator to compare your pay to the average pharmacist and pharmacy staff salaries across the UK.

Nearly all dispensers stressed

Almost all (98%) dispensers who completed the survey said they have high stress levels.

Several said they suffer abuse from patients, with one stating that after work they “go straight to bed, because of the stress and emotional trauma from people being abusive”.

Another respondent said they were “very overworked and under immense pressure to meet targets”.

One said: “My stress levels have never been higher.”

“Dangerous” staffing levels

Almost nine in 10 dispensers (87%) said staffing levels in their pharmacies were low, with over a third (35%) saying they were “so low it is dangerous”.

One respondent said they saw “constant errors and near misses because of the lack of staff”.

Another said: “We often aren’t provided with accuracy checking technician cover during periods of [staff absences]. This has directly resulted in errors, the most recent being a controlled drug error.”

One dispenser said their company “thinks two members of staff to cover three counters is over-staffed”.

The C+D Salary Survey 2019 – the largest UK survey of community pharmacy, and the biggest in the survey's 12-year history – ran between October 1 and November 14 and was completed by a total of 2,556 pharmacists and pharmacy staff. C+D's ongoing coverage from the survey can be found on our dedicated hub.

Search through pharmacy staff roles on the C+D Jobs website.

Are your pharmacy dispensers under too much pressure?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

The average pay for a standard til operator working in Lidl is £21,000 approx, from what I can see.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Mcdonalds pay more and much better working conditions. Even worse than pharmacist role. Pound for pound has to be one of the worst jobs in the UK.

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

The promotion of dispensers is a conspiracy to remove Pharmacists from the pharmacy and cut wages.

So glad I'm in industry, where it is extremely difficult for Tom, Dick or Harry to get a job without qualifications and/or experience.

Heather Pharm Tech, Allocation & Distribution

It saddens me that there seem to be so many bitter pharmacists out there. Dispensers are even more at the front line in my opinon, obviously Pharamacist's are as well, but lets not forget who the patient see's first. Their interactions are mainly with the HCA, dispensers and Techs... We get the brunt of the abuse - yes I know the P'cist is fighting fires in the dispensary and have numerous tasks to do which are just as demoralising, but I feel a few people in this thread are making a mockery out of the hard work we do - for a pittance. As mentioned, you can make more in Lidl or MacDonalds, without the fear of killing someone if you give them the wrong advice... 

We should be pulling together as a community to fight for better pay, better working conditions and more staff. Everyone I speak to is over worked and seriously over stretched, how about instead of lashing out and posting bitter comments, we support each other and signpost those that need the extra help?

Angry Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Hello?? You do understand the concept of RESPONSIBLE pharmacist don't you? Not responsible DISPENSER. That means if you 'kill someone by giving them the wrong advice' I'm the one that will ultimately be held accountable for it because I'm RESPONSIBLE. So you're damn right I will post 'bitter' comments. On top of that they're trying to replace us with people who have nowhere near trained or studied to the levels that we've had to. In some pharmacies a pharmacist doesn't even have a dispenser. We're expected to be till operators, dispensers and pharmacists all in one and for peanuts too. ABSOLUTE JOKE. 

Heather Pharm Tech, Allocation & Distribution

You're a sad strange little man... Do you need a hug?

Anonymous Anonymous, Information Technology

Do you need a brain cell?

Heather Pharm Tech, Allocation & Distribution

Haha! You're a card! :)


I got blessed with sense and manners :)

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Vert well said, my sentiments exacly.We are being made

massive fools of by this lot.

Dave Downham, Manager

Surely a much more pertinent statistic would be the hourly rate? £16,486 is anything from £7.05 to £9.06 in the range 35 to 45 hours. 25+ NLW (£8.21) would pay c£17,000 for a 40 hour week.

I would opine, therefore, that there is a very large proportion of dispensers on NLW. On the bright side for them, they'll be getting a pay rise in April.

Snake Plissken, Student

This is really sad. I know of dispensers that are struggling to make ends meet. Not only are they having to deal with stress and abuse when working but then go home to face the next challenge of considering whether they should eat or put heating on. 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I have to mirror this sentiment. I know pharmacy staff who are also in this situation. Part of the reason they come to work is to keep themselves warm. If a dispenser is hired just to slap labels onto correct products, then that would be a reasonable wage... 

...but it's not.

They have to deal with patients, give advice, liaise with prescribers, contact stock suppliers, constitute antibiotics, etc. All whilst doing it in an understaffed and infamously stressful and hostile environment.

I look forward to seeing the day when dispensers walk out and demonstrate in solidarity. I hope Pharmacists also do so too. Just like how Nurses rightly protested their conditions, it feels like it is the kind of action that is required to get pharmacy's voice heard.

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

Taking 40 hours as the mean working hours, £16486/52/40 = £7.93/hr even less than minimum wage. Why on earth someone would even want to be a dispenser under the current working conditions with this crap pay? One may as well go stack shelves for Lidl, at least I heard they are paying £9+ per hr without the stress or abuse from both patients and management. 

Angry Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

I know Locum dispensers that make £12 an hour. Some parts of the country pharmacist get paid that much. It's an absolute joke  

Leon The Apothecary, Student

T'was £21 over Christmas. Locum Dispensers know to negotiate their value, and good for them. Now if only that would be applicable to Pharmacists as well, so they are paid a reasonable wage too...

Angry Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Roll up!! Roll up!! Oh budding Pharmacist wannabe's. Fancy getting into over 40k debt after leaving univeristy and have all that headache, responsibility and accountability if something goes wrong because YOU are the RESPONSIBLE pharmacist? Then step right up because you are EXACTLY the type of MUG the GPhC is looking to recruit!! Earn a measly 4/5k a year more on average than someone who will probably spend a few years doing an NVQ and have it probably paid for!! No accountability once you're's all on the genius that spent 4 years getting into debt so he can take a few hundred bob more home a week. 
Wake up Pharmacists!! Haha dispensers are on 16k a year. Pharmacists being humiliated on a weekly basis in this country. Brilliant!! 

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