High Tech Stock-take

Like most of you this morning I received the package from the PCRS with details of the proposed High Tech Stock-take for 31st Dec. I have to stress that we have no responsibility, duty or obligation under our GMS contracts to take part in the stock-take. For the last few years as a gesture of good will I have been sending in a paper copy in the yellow bag.

This year following the shenanigans of the HSE/PCRS/Min for Health I will not be completing any High Tech Stock-take. Unless of course they pay me for my time. I reckon that there is one to two hours work involved with this. For that a fee of €250 (plus VAT of course) should cover it. I don’t expect any help from the IPU on this one either.

The High Tech Hub has been a disaster in terms of providing much needed medicines to the sickest in our community. Many consultants don’t cooperate with it, suppliers operate Mon-Fri, 9 to 5 ordering and delivery schedules and getting approval outside of these hours is a logistical nightmare. It’s bad enough in Dublin but if you live beyond the pale and get a discharge prescription on a Friday evening then it sometimes it can be Tuesday evening before you get your vital medicine.

Pharmacists have jumped through hoops too many times to bail out the HSE and look after patients. If the HSE want us to count THEIR stock then they can bloody well pay us to do so.

And don’t get me started on the other joke that is the Hardship Scheme.


Well the HSE has issued its’ guidelines for priority of healthcare workers for vaccination for Covid. I’m not so happy to report that we are right down at the bottom of the list with cleaning, catering and household staff.


2(g) All other healthcare workers without direct patient care but working in a healthcare facility with the potential to meet patients/service users, who are not captured in 2a – 2f

• Examples are Laboratory staff, pharmacists, catering, household staff, general support staff, ICT, maintenance staff.


Not that I have anything against these others but pharmacists are the ones that have been keeping their doors open for the last 10 months when you had to move hell and high water to get into a GP surgery. Like many other community pharmacists I’ve been in face to face contact with Covid positive patients who were collecting prescriptions that their GP’s had emailed in. I’ve had to advise patients that they should be contacting their GP to arrange a Covid test based on the symptoms that they are presenting with in the pharmacy.

Also there is no mention of pharmacist vaccinators. We might as well not exist on the basis of this document. To my eyes it looks as if the deal between the IPU and the HSE for pharmacists to administer the Covid vaccine was done just for the PR optics. We have already been edged out of vaccinating the over 70’s and what’s the betting that it will be made harder and harder for pharmacists to participate in the program with the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

Vaccinating Over 70’s

Wow! It’s been over a year since I last put anything in here. But I have an excuse. Like most pharmacists I’ve been up to my tonsils dealing with Covid. Well now there are vaccines available and there is some hope on the horizon.

Some kudos is due to the IPU on the deal negotiated with the HSE but I can only describe as shambolic the decision that the over 70’s can only be vaccinated for Covid by the GP’s. As pharmacists we are competent to administer the flu vaccine to the overs 70’s and here we are in the middle of a pandemic. Speed is essential and we are preventing half of the vaccinators from looking after one of our most vulnerable cohorts.

Pharmacists have kept their doors open since last March. We have been checking patients blood pressure when the GP’s deemed it too dangerous to go into the surgery. We have been delivering to the cocooning over 70’s and now for some unexplained reason we are not suitable to vaccinate them against Covid. And neither are pharmacists and their staff who are coming in contact with ill patients everyday deemed worthy of any form of priority for vaccination themselves.

All of this in my view is symbolic of the lack of respect that the HSE/DoH has for pharmacists. We are operating under a contract that was started in the 1970’s and has had numerous ad hoc arrangements since then. There is no voice for pharmacy on the Dept. of Health as the post of Chief Pharmacist has been vacant for more years than I care to remember.

So if you are wondering why your granny or grandad can’t get their Covid vaccine in a timely manner then just ask your TD why there are pharmacists in over 1,900 pharmacies around the country just sitting there twiddling their thumbs.

The Effing Hardship Scheme

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.

David Kavanagh MPSI

Dear Colleagues,

You will now have received your ballot paper in the post for the upcoming PSI council elections. I would appreciate your #1 vote.

My main reason for running for council is a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the profession. I am an employee community pharmacist, and have been for nearly a decade. I would hope to bring to the council a strong understanding of the practicalities the implementation of legislation has on us as community pharmacists at a local level. We need to stand up and be heard. I am confident that I will be that voice as a strong advocate for community pharmacists and their patients.

The PSI’s role is to ensure that pharmacy services are delivered in a competent, professional and ethical manner, in an appropriate environment, to the highest standards of quality, care, and best practice, ensuring the well-being of patients and the public. Having undertaken a Masters in Healthcare Ethics and Law in RCSI, I can bring this experience to the council table in ensuring that we meet our mandate.

I will be a voice for pharmacists around the country regardless of their practice area. I will represent those who have no contact on the council to guide them on issues relating to the council and it’s remit.

Thank you,

David Kavanagh MPSI

Siobhán Cuddy MPSI


If you want a Passionate, Independent, Community Pharmacist , Vote for Siobhán Cuddy. MPSI for council.

Community Pharmacy is in my blood. I was born into a pharmacy family and I have been a strong voice for community pharmacy for the past 25 years.

I want to optimise how different branches of the profession work together and how different Health Care Professionals work together.

I am passionately dedicated to pharmacy and I want to serve pharmacy, community pharmacy and pharmacy profession as a whole, and how it integrates with other health care professionals.

Now, I have the time and energy to give back and represent myself and my profession, and be of service overall in a new and different way to the way I have been of service for decades in my community.

I am passionate about pharmacy leadership and ‘patient centered’ care and liaising with other health care providers that support our patients, for example, I have been a participant and contributor to an interdisciplinary, award winning and accredited online platform.

When I closed my pharmacy , I was very clear what would be the optimum contribution I could make to pharmacy. Therefore , I would be so honoured if you gave me the opportunity to serve you on council and represent our profession.

Please vote for me.

Mark Jordan MPSI

I should just point out that Mark and I are not related (I’m not related to any of the other candidates either.)

My name is Mark Jordan. I am a Community Pharmacist based in Castlebar Co. Mayo and I am seeking election to the PSI council of Ireland. Having qualified in 2016 and as I mentioned in my short biography on the PSI website, I became enamoured with our profession. I began to search out my role in the wider community of Pharmacists with an aim to develop on my personal and professional skills whilst also solidifying my professional legacy by acting in any way possible to encourage a cohesive and pro-communicative profession. Part of this development is the opportunity to achieve change for the profession as an elected member of the PSI council. Throughout this journey to date I have, as many of you have, encountered reasons to ask `why?`. Why do ninety five percent of our colleagues feel that the work is very hard? Is it because our professional obligations make it so? Ninety one percent of Irish Pharmacists believe this to be true. It seems the professional workforce feel the future of Pharmacy is undermined. Why? I am not in the business of making promises that have and will again be broken. As Albert Einstein once famously said, `Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity`. Therefore my sole promise is to ask why. I want to work for the betterment of patient care but also for the betterment of the professional and the level of care we receive. My vision, if elected is to do so by simply asking `why` at any and all opportunities. Based on the statistics it is clear that our peers see the system as flawed. However change is not something that is won on the back of electoral campaign promises that can never be delivered upon. Change is a successive mindset which propagates progressional movement in a direction chosen by those who wish to implement it. Our profession is a rich and historic one, we must work to protect its future and with it the patients we all so diligently serve. Entrusting an enthusiastic, hard working and charismatic leader to the PSI Council is certainly the correct manner in which we can achieve this change and I am of the opinion I can fulfil that description. If anyone would like me to develop on any of the points mentioned in this short biographical piece please do not hesitate to contact me at markjamesjordan1@gmail.com .

Go raibh maith agaibh

Mark Jordan MPSI.

PSI Elections & Qualified Assistants

So the hustings are on. One group who don’t have any representation on the PSI Council are the Qualified Assistants. Of course we all know that the PSI would just love them to disappear. (Fat chance of that happening!)

One thing I would like to know is how the eleven candidates feel about the QAs. Do they support the PSI’s preferred new regulations? Do they think that the Pharmacy Act should be amended to recognise the wealth of experience and knowledge of the QAs?

They are a small enough group but they are going to be around for the next 10-12 years at least, that’s 5-6 Council elections. They have already started the process of bringing their case to the High Court so the PSI can’t pretend that this is going away and it can all be swept under the rug.

So will any of our candidates put their head above the parapet? Or maybe they are practicing for their hoped for time on the Council.

Come on! If you have anything to say on the matter just put it in the comments or email me and I’ll put it up there for you.