Times For Things Traditional

It’s that time of year again.  Time to start doing traditional things.  Putting up the tree, boiling the ham, getting pissed on eggnog. But there is one more thing which is traditional to pharmacy, the PCRS High Tech Stock Take.  The sheets should be coming out soon.  In keeping with tradition we will all gather in our pharmacies at midnight on the 31st December and count the High Tech stocks on our shelves and in our fridges. 

It is here that I will break with tradition.  Instead of inputting it on to the PCRS website I am going to put the paper sheets into the infamous yellow bag and let the PCRS do the work for themselves.  There is nothing in our contract that states that we have to enter it on the web site.  In fact there is an even older tradition whereby the PCRS did their own bloody work.  If they want me or my staff to do their work then they can bloody well pay me. 

If you are like me then the start of the month is one of your busiest times.  The start of a new year and the clean up after Christmas even more so.  The last thing you want is for yourself or one of your staff tied up on you PC doing the PCRS’s work for them.  

So let 2019 be the start of a new tradition for yourself.  Nothing for nothing!  If the PCRS want us to do anything on their behalf then they should pay us.  If they are unsure how much to pay us then sit down with the IPU and talk to them in a respectful and meaningful manner.  Now how much use the IPU will be to us is the subject of an entirely different post.

Have a cool yule folks and have a prosperous 2019 if possible.

It’s official, they don’t have any!

The latest GM from the IPU seems to take the approach that you catch more flies with sugar than vinegar.  If the flies are the HSE/PCRS then they needn’t bother.  The Executive seems to have lost any connection that they have with members.  While many might not be up for a fully fledged  fight the last thing they want to do is just roll over.

There are a number of things that the IPU should be doing now.  Firstly they should be looking at ways of taking back control of the levy. We all have direct debits with them for our fees so it should not be beyond their ability to set up an automated method of invoicing the levy directly to members and then collecting the money by direct debit.  I’ve heard some moaning that not everybody will sign up for a new system.  But I’ve heard arguments like this before and they didn’t hold up then.  If they don’t pay the levy then they can negotiate direct with the PCRS themselves. Let’s see how quickly the  PCRS gives them any leeway if they have any dispute without the IPU behind them.

Next they should demand some quid pro quo for reentering talks.  Sorry I should have put the PIP.  But the Northern Ireland analogy is a good one here.  Even if we get the PCRS to agree to talks about talks the point will be made.  And what is wrong about getting some outside help on this.  The IPU can afford it and it is slightly arrogant to think that they can do everything in house.

I’ve been told that any meetings with the PCRS end up nearly as shouting matches.  They see all pharmacists as crooks and thieves.  Well the feeling is mutual.  I see them all as bullies and gangsters.  I think that we should call them out on this, publically if necessarily. We have no time for anybody defrauding the system.  The PCRS have the powers to go and investigate and inspect premises and books of anybody that the suspect of fraud. Let them put up or shut up!

The Executive seem determined to use the Frank Sinatra method, I Did It My Way.  They are in danger of losing the support of a great number of their members if it has not happened already.  This is unsustainable in a democratic organisation.  If they don’t pay heed to their members there will be hell to pay.

Time for New Balls

We are used to fighting our battles with the PSI, the PCRS and the HSE.  But if what I hear today is true we can now add the IPU to the list.  Just like the Grand Old Duke of York they have marched their men to the top of the hill and now they are marching down again.

Reports suggest that the PCRS have threatened to stop collecting the IPUs GMS levy from 1st January next if the IPU does not agree to re-engage in the Pharmacy Interface Project.  And what’s the reaction?  The IPU rolls over and plays dead faster than a politician after a free lunch.

We all knew that it was going to be messy when we pulled out but to surrender without a shot being fired makes me wonder what sort of people we have in Butterfield House.  In my view decisions like this should be taken by the membership as a whole.  Surely the IPU could put some other method of collecting the levy in place.

We put the first chip down when we withdrew from the project.  The PCRS has now just upped the ante.  They want this badly and I don’t think that we should give it to them on the cheap.  If we give up on this we can forget of having any real negotiations  with the PCRS EVER again. They will know that we have cojones for a fight and just implement whatever diktat they like.

I think maybe the Officers and the Executive should ask themselves “did we get this wrong?” or “maybe the members might want something different.”  It’s time for them to come out and state publicly to the members did they agree to roll over and face their wrath.  And if they think that members aren’t angry over this then it is time for them to step down.

Press Statement By PAA

Rules approved by the pharmacy regulator today will result in some pharmacies having to close on Saturdays. Thursday 20 September 2018
Today the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland Council approved rules that will restrict the work practices of pharmaceutical assistants. If the new rules are signed into law by the Minister for Health, pharmaceutical assistants will no longer be able to provide professional cover for pharmacists’ day off. “It is not possible to get locum cover so if the pharmaceutical assistant can’t cover I may have to remain closed some Saturdays…It’s fairly disastrous for pharmacy in Ireland”, a pharmacist explains in research carried out to assess the impact of the rules on pharmacy services.
The report, Human Rights and Equality Impact Assessment of the Proposed Draft Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy) Rules, published today, points to a reduction in the availability of pharmacy services, with 76 per cent of pharmacist respondents reporting that the implementation of the PSI Rules will make it difficult to maintain the current services.
The impact will be greatest in rural areas, as reported by this pharmacist: “My qualified assistant has worked with us for 26 years and has always been highly professional in her work keeping up with developments. She is extremely capable. We have great difficulty in obtaining pharmacist relief, as the younger pharmacist prefers an urban workplace. If my workload increased I would strongly have to consider putting my pharmacy up for sale or failing that closing which would impact on the local community especially as our local GP has recently retired and his practice is looked after by a GP practice in the nearest town which is over 20Km away”
In addition, 248 pharmaceutical assistants will be deprived of their right to earn a livelihood, having worked in pharmacies dispensing medication for customers for over 35 years. Pharmaceutical assistants like Sarah explain how “I will be out of a job. I am only 60 and state pension only available at 67…I have two children in college…it will be a financial disaster…I need my work and my money “, Marie spoke of how “I still have a mortgage so am worried about keeping my family home as I am a widow with a disabled adult living with me”.For more information contact Deirdre Lynch, secretary of the Pharmaceutical Assistants Association (PAA) on 087 4103599.
The full report is available on the PAA website www.regpharmassist.ie; the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) website www.ipu.ie, the National Women’s Council of Ireland website www.nwci.ie

PCRS Restrict Access By Claims Checker

The HSE has requested that Axium temporarily suspend access to the Primary Care Reimbursement Service claims analysis module of iGnite.  I understand that a similar move has been made in relation to McLernons claims checking system.  Call me an old fashioned conspiracy theorist but first we have the PCRS stop sending out paper copies of the claims and now they are restricting access by claims checking software.
It’s almost as if they didn’t want us to check that they are paying us properly.  (Which they don’t in the first place.)
And then again this might be all one big coincidence.