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Rural pharmacies struggle to recruit pharmacists

By Karen Keast | Date Updated:
 

Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand's executive chair Karen Crisp

Community pharmacies in rural New Zealand are struggling to recruit and retain pharmacists.

A Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand survey has found 24 per cent of pharmacies are finding it difficult to recruit professional pharmacy staff, up from 15 per cent last year, because they are located in rural areas.

The survey results prompted the Guild’s executive chair Karen Crisp to repeat calls for the government to include pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists in its voluntary bonding scheme.

“The Guild believes including pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists in the voluntary bonding scheme would help alleviate staff shortages in rural pharmacy and improve access to health care for rural populations,” Mrs Crisp said in a statement.

“The primary reason given by respondents
for the difficulty recruiting pharmacists and technicians was because the pharmacy was located in a rural area.”

The Guild supported the Pharmacy Council’s calls in 2009 for the government to widen the voluntary bonding scheme, which encourages newly-qualified doctors, nurses, midwives, medical physicists and radiation therapists to launch their careers in communities and specialities that struggle to recruit and retain staff.

The scheme provides payments to student loans after a three to five year bonded period.

More than 240 pharmacies took part in the Guild’s annual remuneration survey, conducted mostly online throughout August and September.

The survey found Christchurch pharmacies had the largest proportion of staff vacancies, while the median pharmacy is open 49 hours a week; ranging from 46 hours in rural areas to 52 hours in Wellington.

It also found the median number of prescriptions has risen in the past year to 77,000, up from 70,000.

The Guild states while remuneration details are confidential and available only to members, it has revealed the median pay for most pharmacist roles has remained steady for the past three years while there has been a major spike in locum pharmacist rates.
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