Feature Article of Sunday, 8 April 2012
Columnist: Amenyo, Andrew
The Hospital Pharmacists' strike is unrealistic and ridiculous. Hospital Pharmacists must count themselves blessed to be placed on the same grade and level with other allied health professionals. In fact, Biomedical Scientists and Nurses have been cheated for far too long when it comes to determination of salaries and wages.
In the health sector, job evaluation has always been flawed and skewed in favour of pharmacists and doctors. May be pharmacists and doctors have been smarter by submitting dishonest job specifications but this time round their luck has run out and Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) will take none of their lies. This is why I am urging Mr Smith-Graham, FWSC and government to be very firm in dealing with the pharmacists. Laboratory work is labour intensive, very scientific, time-consuming and carries a very high risk of infection and other accidents yet biomedical scientists are placed on low salary scales. I have always been wondering why hospital pharmacists whose main work is just to distribute drugs purchased from pharmaceutical companies to patients are being placed on high salary scales. Apart from surgeons, all other doctors spend most of their time in the consulting room prescribing drugs mostly paracetamol, antimalarial and other antibiotics to patients. It beats my imagination why these salary disparities in favour of doctors and pharmacists exist in the country. I agree absolutely with Mr Smith-Graham that the initial job evaluation placed pharmacists below the other health professionals; anything short of this is unfair to biomedical scientists and nurses.
Any honest pharmacist will perfectly agree with me that hospital pharmacists do not deserve what they have got now relative to other health professionals. Their demand is misplaced and their decision to go on strike is very selfish, unthoughtful and ridiculous. They must re-examine and listen to their conscience, show appreciation to FWSC and return to work to salvage their image. I like the pharmacy profession because it is a very easy, low risk and business-like job which can be practised at old age unlike the other health professions. Hospital pharmacists are retailers whose main job is buying and selling drugs to patients and therefore must stop making unrealistic demands. If they continue along the path they have chosen, my advice to government is to consider privatisation of hospital pharmacies as the solution; this will also reduce the wage bill.