In my last post I wrote “Don’t get me started on the Hardship Scheme.” We kept our doors open when most of the doctors surgeries were only doing phone consultations. We bent over backwards to accommodate the new prescription regulations. Spent €1,000s making our pharmacies safer for the public and our staff. And now dammit I feel along with all the other shenanigans and broken promises to pharmacists from the HSE during the Covid emergency it can do no harm to highlight a bit more.
I have long since stopped operating the Hardship Scheme as it is just a joke and a money loser.
The sooner that pharmacists stop operating the Hardship scheme the sooner the HSE and/or the IPU will have to come up with a viable and economic alternative. Giving out €1,000s of stock on a wing and a prayer of approval and then only to receive €5 months later is a joke.
If the HSE can pay to keep patients in hospital until proper home-care or nursing home arrangements are made they can also pay to keep them in hospital until proper arrangements are made to supply medicines and other paraphernalia.
The IPU cannot give a directive to pharmacists not to operate the HS as that might be seen as anti-competitive however they can highlight some of the many failures of the scheme. Such as how there can be a serious delay for patients in getting the vital medicines that they need. 4 weeks to get approval for “routine” applications and 1 week for “urgent”. Let’s not forget the region to region variation in approvals. Post code lottery healthcare how are ye! The HSE don’t care if patients suffer as long as the books look good.
The HSE are relying on our innate good nature and unwillingness to see patients suffer. But what nursing home would take a patient on a wing and a prayer of payment approval and then give €1,000s worth of care for just €5 margin. We’re suckers. There’s no other word for it.
If it wasn’t unfair to those living with domestic violence I would say that pharmacists have an abusive relationship with the HSE. And no prizes for guessing who the abuser is.
Where to now? Well for one thing the HSE could put in place an economic fee for flu vaccination. They have stated that they want much higher levels of uptake of the flu vaccine next Autumn. Two things are needed for this. One it has to be economic and secondly many more pharmacists will need to complete the required training. I undertook the training when it was first introduced but quickly realised that it was not economic. As well as the cost of the training itself there is also the cost of a days locum while I carry out the training and the associated costs of carrying out the vaccinations as well. Some subsidy towards these costs and a higher fee might go some of the way towards repenting for their past sins.
While I’ve had my disagreements with some in the IPU in the past I now have admiration for those who sit face to face with these abusers at the regular meetings. I hope that Butterfield House has showers installed so that they can step straight into them after these meetings.
You have it many times that we are now living in the new normal. Well the new normal will now have to include the relationship between pharmacists, the IPU and the HSE. The way that the HSE behaved towards pharmacists over the last 3 months was at best insulting. Pharmacists have a new resolve that came from working on the coal face while on the bureaucrats ran for the hills and hid behind their laptops under the duvets.