Fórsa’s hospital pharmacist members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a dispute over the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s (DPER) refusal to sanction an improved hospital pharmacy service which would deliver cost savings of €55m per year.
The union has served notice of a one-day strike action, by 500 hospital pharmacists, to the HSE and voluntary hospital representatives. The strike action by will take place on Wednesday 16th February.
Fórsa official Catherine Keogh explained: “DPER has refused to sanction measures that had already been backed by the Department of Health and the HSE. These are measures which would save the taxpayer €55m per year, and those savings have been validated by the employer.”
Our hospital pharmacist members have backed industrial action which reflects the depth of feeling among our members that these blocked measures will radically improve the service, as well as deliver significant savings.
The union said a range of measures, including the sanctioned use of ‘biosimilar’ medicines, new senior posts, and a new grading structure for hospital pharmacists have all been developed to improve and modernise hospital pharmacy services, and bring them in line with international best practice.
Ms Keogh said: “Our hospital pharmacist members have backed industrial action by more than 94% on a strong ballot turnout, reflecting the depth of feeling among our members that these measures will radically improve the service, as well as deliver significant savings.”
A ballot to strike last December was deferred due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Ms Keogh said that the union had, in order to avoid strike action, sought recourse to the Labour Court, but DPER has instructed the HSE not to attend.
Ms Keogh added: “Among the measures are a shortening of the pay scale for entry-level hospital pharmacists. This would make these posts more competitive in a labour market where entry-level retail pharmacy positions are more attractive due to a starting pay premium of at least 30% above entry-level hospital pharmacy, and often much higher.”