Canberra Hospital pharmacists have secured a win for their pay and conditions after extended negotiations with the health department, the union representing them says.
ACT director of Professionals Australia Dale Beasley said hospital pharmacists could now breath a sigh of relief after winning clear commitments from ACT Health.
His comments came after last month writing to Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris, warning that industrial action was on the cards.
Mr Beasley said staff shortages were putting patients at risk and unattractive pay and conditions meant the ACT was losing pharmacists to other jurisdictions.
He said the new classification structure agreed upon incorporated at risk bonuses which would attract and retain pharmacists to manage workload.
“ACT Health has listened thanks to the strength shown by members in sticking to their position and being willing to take protected industrial action," Mr Beasley said.
“Their resolve has resulted in the issues receiving the attention from health that they deserve.
"This means pharmacists are on track to fix long held concerns for the good of patients’ health and their own health.”
Mr Beasley said the union's members were integral professionals in the healthcare team in ensuring safe, effective use of medicines for the good of patients.
“Our members appreciate Minister Fitzharris listening to them and acting to fix attraction and retention and establish a new dedicated consultative forum," he said.
“ACT Health has acknowledged historic issues with maintaining staffing levels due to uncompetitive salaries and outdated classifications.
“Our members wanted to negotiate a way to fix both issues and have succeeded on both fronts.
“The old system, which relied on ad hoc attraction and retention bonuses, failed."
The new structure will incorporate the old ad hoc bonuses into a pharmacists regular salary, provide
broadbands and regular salary increases for the duration of the enterprise agreement.
Additional bonuses will also now be extended to the classification level that hasn’t historically received them.
Mr Beasley said the bargaining process had taken more than a year, with discussions starting long before that.
"Often pharmacists did not feel listened to, but now thanks to ... members standing together we are confident we can properly address the issues they have struggled with," he said.
“We’ve got the right package of conditions now, together with improved leadership from ACT Health and the minister, who are acting on pharmacists concerns.”