3 months notice

I’ve been thinking about the 3 months notice that we are supposed to give when we are terminating our contracts. It seems that the HSE don’t care much for the same 3 months notice.

The changes announced on September 17th last were to come into affect on the 1st December. That’s only 10 weeks notice. Then when they were re-introduced in January the letter was dated 2nd January but was not received in most pharmacies until 10th January. This was to come into effect on March 1st. This is 7 weeks notice.

So it seems that the HSE have forfeited or the right or the desire to 3 months notice.

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Irish Pharmacy Journal

The IPJ arrived this morning. I eagerly opened it for a read and to get the PSI’s take on the current crisis. To put it bluntly the attitude of the IPJ was “what crisis?”

It’s almost a happy clappy view of the future of pharmacy with no reference to the real world. I’ll have handful of whatever tablets they are on.

The editorial is called “Pharmacy at a crossroads.” You might think with a title like that it would make some mention of the current situation. It reads almost exactly like a speech given to pharmacy students 18 months ago. What is the point of talking about the future of pharmacy when we may not even have a future worth thinking about.

But then what would you expect from a council where half have been appointed by Mary Harney and /or are her best buddies. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you and by the way please leave any cojones that you might have at the door.

What can I write now?

I have thought long and hard about to write about the latest developments in the HSE fiasco. I am conscious that it would not be prudent to publish much of our thinking and planning. I have been told by my spies that the HSE and the DoH&C have computers with internet access and that they might be monitoring this and other sites.

So what do we talk about? I think that in public at least we should be discussing how we can support each other. There is no doubt that these are stressful times for all pharmacists, both proprietors and employees. And the best way to do this is as the ad says “It’s good to talk.” There will be plenty of time when this is over (and it will be over some day) to bad mouth and back stab each other. biggrin.gif

It’s fairly obvious that the HSE’s plan is divide and conquer and the best way to defeat this is to unite. This also includes the Irish owned chains as well. At this stage they should realise that their best interests are best served by rolling in with the independents. And what about the employees? They are watching their future careers and potential business opportunities go down the tubes. Not to mention their salary prospects. Even the pharmacists employed by the HSE must be feeling the strain. From what I hear they were badly treated by the HSE around the time and following the methadone stoppage. How likely are they to tolerate that kind of treatment again. If this comes to a head how many are likely to need time off due to stress related conditions and from exhaustion. Did anybody mention a blue flu?
And what about our omni-present foreign owned chains? While on the surface their interests are best served by a strong pharmacy sector it is likely that they will see this as an opportunity to cherry pick business and possibly increase market share. However much their sing their own praises for investing in Ireland at the end of the day their profits will be leaving the country. It is interesting to note that the republican party Fianna Fáil are sitting back and letting outsiders take profit from the Irish Health service and tax payers and then export it back to the U.K. and Germany. It probably doesn’t bother them too much as the government is filled with some of the best politicians than money can (and did) buy.

Last Wednesdays Meeting

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.