Scottish government must listen to employee reps during talks
By Neil Trainis
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has today accused the Scottish government of excluding representatives of employee pharmacists and other staff from its contractual talks with Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) and urged ministers to include the union in those discussions.
In a statement published on its website, the PDA said community pharmacy in Scotland would be better supported by tripartite talks between the government, CPS on behalf of pharmacy employers and the PDA, who would represent pharmacists including locums.
The PDA said the government’s recent injection of £20 million to alleviate the financial pressures on pharmacies caused by increasing medicines prices, following a breakdown in talks between ministers and the CPS over the financial package for 20230-24, has not “trickled down” to employees or other staff.
Although owning a pharmacy in Scotland is relatively attractive given the “apparent buoyancy of the market,” the PDA said, the wages of pharmacy employees “have stagnated for the last 15 years.” The PDA also said the extra funding has not allowed owners to invest in more staff and training or improve their premises.
“There is a need for discussion and decision-making that listens to and balances the rights and responsibilities of both employers and workers, to generate benefits for individuals, organisations and society,” the PDA said, urging Michael Matheson, Scotland’s new cabinet secretary for health and social care, to agree to “tripartite discussions around all aspects of community pharmacy provision.”
The PDA said community pharmacists deliver NHS services “well under the most difficult and trying conditions, often sacrificing their own wellbeing to provide safe patient care” but insisted they “could do so much more and better if the government would include their representatives in tripartite discussions to help shape the conditions in which they practise.”
Last month, the CPS turned down the government’s pay offer having expressed concerns with reimbursement and remuneration elements of the package.
The PDA said although Scotland “provides the most generous community pharmacy settlement in the UK,” concerns remain that there are “unsuitable and sub-standard premises” in the country while employee pharmacists are “often told to undertake training unpaid during non-working hours.”
Those problems, the PDA indicated, could be addressed if the government allowed the union into its talks with CPS.
“All of this contributes to the increasing low morale and intolerably high rates of poor health and burnout among pharmacists as recorded by the PDA’s Safer Pharmacies survey and other sector research,” the PDA added, insisting the government “has fixed dialogue exclusively with the pharmacy owners via their representatives at CPS, excluding the representatives of individual pharmacists.”