Pharmacists’ woes under the lens

Figures from the survey are not exhaustive, but they give an indication of how the pharmacy profession feels currently.

Magnifying glass against a yellow background

In a survey delivered in 2017, The Pharmaceutical Journal asked members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society — from all sectors of the profession: community, hospital, primary care, academia, industry and others — for their views on their salary, their career and the wider profession. And it may be unsurprising that respondents from community pharmacy provided the starkest results.

Of all the sectors, the highest proportion of community pharmacists thought they should be paid more, and they were the least likely to recommend pharmacy as a profession to others.

Concerningly, more than half of the community pharmacists who answered the question said they had thought about leaving the profession in the past year.

At the other end of the scale, pharmacists working in academia and industry seemed much happier with their lot. They were the two sectors of the profession most likely to recommend the job to others, and they had the lowest proportions considering leaving pharmacy altogether.

While the survey’s results lacked the statistical power to make assumptions and draw solid conclusions [our Careers Editor, Angela Kam, writes about the lessons we learned from conducting this survey in this blog post], the responses echo the strain felt by pharmacy contractors and teams since funding cuts to community pharmacy in England were announced in late 2016.

And interestingly, pharmacists working in primary care, one of the areas currently strongly supported by government reported the best work-life balance, and were the most likely to have been given a pay rise within the past year.

Overall, almost half of the pharmacists taking part in the survey said they felt worse off financially than they were five years ago, and just a quarter reported feeling better off.

Although more than 40% of pharmacists working in industry (11 in our survey) said they earned more than £80,000 a year, compared with only 1% of community pharmacists, it’s too simplistic to present the levels of satisfaction contained in the data as a public/private split.

And money clearly is not everything for pharmacists — more than half of academic pharmacists felt they deserved a pay rise, but only 19% have considered leaving pharmacy, and the vast majority would recommend the profession to others.

The biggest barriers that are stopping pharmacists doing their jobs properly, according to RPS members, are lack of staff, lack of the right type of staff, and problems with IT. All of which considered a bigger obstacle in the workplace than a lack of money across most sectors.

These figures are clearly not exhaustive, but they give an indication of how the pharmacy profession feels currently. The Pharmaceutical Journal will be repeating the exercise later this year to start to build a picture of morale and satisfaction over time.

  • On 23 March 2018, an error in this editorial was corrected. Pharmacists felt they were financially worse off 5 years, rather than 12 months, ago.
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2018, Vol 300, No 7911;300(7911):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204565

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