It’s a real pain how having to run a pharmacy gets in the way of blogging. 48 hours before I could report on the biggest meeting of pharmacists in my 25 years in pharmacy.
I for one enjoyed the meeting. It was a great social occasion, a chance to meet colleagues from all over the country. If the HSE’s PR (Pure cRap) machine is to be believed it was the largest gathering of millionaires in the country. If I’m a millionaire why is it our family car is an 8 year old banger and we have not had a family holiday in over two and a half years.
Anyway back to the meeting. Invigorating is the only word I can use to describe the morning session. A DVD of that session should be played on a continuous loop in every pharmacy in the country. However it was the afternoon session that was the meat of the day. It’s no secret that the view expressed by most of the speakers was that if there was no meaningful move on the part of the HSE before Marchs payment is due on 22nd April that we should pull out of all schemes.
Just in case anybody from the PD appointed Competition Authority, or anybody from the HSE who might like to sneakily report this to the Competition Authority, I am not advocating to or coercing anybody to pull out of all or any schemes. I am merely reporting individual opinions which I heard expressed in my presence. As we are all individuals and we can all make up our own minds. Indeed the only people trying to coerce pharmacists at present are the HSE with their new improved interim contract. It shows how little they understand pharmacists if they think that any one can coerce independent pharmacists to do anything that they do not want to.
We had John Burke in the morning session tell us that the last time that relations were even near as bad as present the only thing that worked was a complete pull out. Indeed an agreement was only reached at 1:30AM on the day that the
strike pull out was due to commence. In this instance we may have no choice but to pull out. Most of us are company directors and as such are obliged to take action in the event of reckless trading. If we are dispensing Government schemes at a loss and there is little prospect of any change for some considerable period, we are obliged to take immediate action. I would hold that if come 22nd April the HSE underpays then we would be obliged to stop dispensing Government schemes immediately and with no notice. My feeling is that the less notice the better. That way the HSE has less time to put any alternatives in place and would be more likely they are to come to an agreement. A lot depends on the majority of pharmacists pulling out. It is unlikely that the foreign own chains would pull out. Indeed I could think of some Irish chains and independents who might use a pull out as an opportunity to cherry pick nursing homes and the like or to just hoover up all the business in an area. Indeed within 5 minutes drive of my pharmacy there is 6 foreign owned chain pharmacies, 4 Irish owned chains and at least 4 independents. It’s clear to all that the HSE’s plan is divide and conquer so for pharmacists unity is strength.
It will need somebody with a better knowledge than mine of the Companies Act to work out our exact obligations as directors. Also if this will have any effect on the ongoing legal cases in the High Court.
But how can we trust anything they say. They have already lied in negotiations before and not only is trust gone there is down right dis-trust. In short the next two months are going to be momentous for Irish Pharmacy.