I was at the IPU Eastern Region AGM last week and I am a bit more up beat about the situation. I still think that the HSE will appeal the Hickey decision if only to give themselves more time. The decision of the court that it is the Minister for Health that has to give the final word and that the contract states that there has to be consultation between the Minister and the Pharmaceutical Contractors Committee takes the HSE out of this loop. Even though there is very little to base an appeal on other than that they don’t like the decision I think that it will be appealed so that the HSE does not have to pay out in this financial year. This should give them time to negotiate a settlement, i.e. a new contract, and keep within budget for this year.
As for last weeks announcement that the HSE wants to withdraw the automatic entitlement to medical cards for those over 70. I think that it is a non-runner for exactly the same reason that it was introduced in the first place. The over 70’s get out and vote in numbers. The air heads in the HSE might like it but the more politically minded will see that this part of the plan is scuppered. From a pharmacy point of view (although not society) this would be a positive as it would move patients from GMS to private/DPS. It would also save the HSE hassle as they would not have to find a solution for parts of their disputes with pharmacists and the GPs. However I think that politics will ensure that this is buried for now (at least).