Haven’t we seen this Deja Vu before?

Apologies to John Barry I owe him a big copy right cheque at some stage.

So March 1st is the new December 1st. We all send the HSE the same letter as before with the variation this time of telling them where they can put their new contract. I’ve cannibalised parts of John letter for my own variation.

Re: Interim Pharmacy Contract.

Dear Pat,

I am returning the copy of the Interim Pharmacy Contract that you have sent.

With all due respects this is the third letter I have sent you without any specific response from you or your office. You seem to have ignored my previous correspondence. I want you to discuss all these matters with my appointed representative, the IPU. All pay elements should be dealt with by the body that the Minister for Health proposes to set up to adjudicate fairly on remuneration. Changes in the structure of payments need to be negotiated with my representative, the IPU.

Your continued refusal to direct these matters to my appointed representative, the IPU at this stage amounts to extreme rudeness and now borders on harassment. I wish to reiterate that I deem the reimbursement rate as set out in the letter of September 17th and 2nd January to be a breach of your contract with Jordan’s Pharmacy Ltd. and have duly instructed my solicitor on these matters.

Yours cooperation in this matter would be greatly appreciated,.

I can’t help but wonder if I had appointed a solicitor as my representative (which would be my right if I choose) would the HSE still ignore my directions and send this stuff to me? Would they do the same to a HSE employee who wished to have somebody from IMPACT represent them?

The HSE went ahead with this even after Mary Harney announced the setting up of an independent body to set renumeration rates for health care professionals. Also a date has been set in the Commercial Division of the High Court to hear the cases already listed. It seems that they want to try present the courts with a fait accompli. At this stage it looks like the politicians are unwilling or unable to put manners on the HSE so it looks like that it will be left to the courts.

It looks like it is time to put the posters back up and start handing out the leaflets again. The medical card system is back under threat, who out there will stand up to protect the weakest in our community.

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C.A.O.

As it is coming up to C.A.O. time I was thinking what advice re pharmacy would I give aspiring graduates of 2012. Would I recommend pharmacy as a career?

Like a kerry man I’ll answer a question with a question. What do you want to do. If you can get the points for pharmacy then the world is your oyster. Think long and hard on your reasons for choosing pharmacy. Yes it is a rewarding career. Salaries are good at present but that doesn’t look like continuing. If you work in community pharmacy you are dealing with and at the mercy of the public. Hours are long and unsocial and the media will attack you without even bothering to check their facts.

So the best of luck to you what ever you choose. You probably have already done your home work on your choice of course. If you do decide on pharmacy enjoy the ride. It’s gonna be a rocky one.

Yep, they’re at it again

I got my letter this morning. Much as I outlined in yesterdays post. However the new contract that the HSE is proposing goes much further. I’ll quote part of the IPU’s reaction to it as it sums it up best.

  • Making all previous agreements null and void by the elimination of clauses 19 (3) and 19 (5) of the current contract so you will not be able to rely on any aspect of any agreement reached over the past 36 years between the Union and the Department of Health and Children / HSE.

  • Offering an unspecified flat fee for all the major schemes;

  • Giving the HSE the power to terminate your contract with three months notice;

  • Giving the HSE the power to alter the terms of your contract at any time and without prior consultation with you;

  • Fixing the price of medicines for private patients, which raises fundamental Competition Law issues;

  • Giving the HSE power to determine the reimbursable price of medicines irrespective of what you may have to pay for them;

  • Giving the HSE an absolute discretion to refuse payment in respect of any claim that does not meet the unspecified requirements of the HSE.

It is also important to note that any pharmacist who accepts the revised contract will lose the right to take legal action to vindicate the terms of their existing contract.

Nothing has changed therefore.”

All that is a bit wordy but the long and the short of it is that they want us to cave in and agree to everything they want.

As usual the cover letter from the HSE is full of the usual crap lies. It’s as if the last 5 months never happened. When this was announced first last September my feeling was that this was an opening gambit for negotiations. When it looked like no negotiations my feeling was that it would only be sorted out by legal or political means. Many politicians to their credit have done their bit but many have also failed to step up when called. The HSE can stand by for 1500 legal writs in the next few days.

It makes me wonder what qualifications or skills one needs to work in the upper echelons of the HSE. The only ones that have been displayed so far is a thick neck and a thick skull.

Take cover, the HSE are at it again!

So it looks like the cease fire is over and hostilities have re-commenced.  Unofficial reports I have heard suggest that March 1st is the new December 1st.  The new twist is that they are now offering a new contract which pays cost price less 9% and a flat fee of €5 for all schemes.  If this wasn’t so serious it would be ridiculous.

Apparently a new letter has gone out but as yet i haven’t received any notification.  If this does go ahead I will be joining many other pharmacists in saying “see you in court!”

A happy new year?

So the cease fire has held so far. There has been little or no movement not too surprisingly over the xmas period. Two minor developments. The first was that Mary Harney quietly put up the DPS co-payment from €85 to €90 during the xmas to new year period. Not much press coverage of a 5.9% increase to patients. Slightly above inflation there.

Secondly there was an announcement again in the xmas/new year break and again from Mary that she was looking at setting up an independent commission to set fees for pharmacists, doctors, dentists and opticians. Similar to the commission that sets salaries for politicians and the judiciary. This is help get around the Competition Act blockage to any negotiations around monetary matters. This is a welcome change if the commission is indeed independent and not some HSE appointed clone. That I think will be another battle for later.

Apart from that a Happy New Year to all my readers, may all your worries be small ones.