VIABILTY OF BUSINESS THREATENED BY CUTS
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has put contingency plans in place across the country after hundreds of pharmacies withdrew from the medical card scheme last weekend. In Castletownroche Robert Duffy has withdrawn his pharmacy from the Community Drug Schemes.
“I regret the inconvenience the current HSE/Minister Harney crisis has imposed on our customers. The community of Castletownroche has been provided with a pharmacy service since 1951, when it was founded by Fred O’Riordan. I purchased the pharmacy in 2001 and invested to meet the changing requirements of pharmacy practice. The imposition now of 34% cuts in fees by the HSE is unsustainable for a rural pharmacy and threatens the viability of the business.”
Mr Duffy went on to point out that the IPU (the pharmacists’ representative body) has called for the appointment of a mediator in this dispute but, he says, the Government has shown no interest to do so.
“Pharmacists have laid down no pre-conditions for dialogue with the HSE but are being stone-walled in their attempt to resolve the situation. I do not want to see pharmacy reduced to patients sent to designated dispensaries, in a queue system, receiving prescriptions through a hatch without any interaction with the pharmacist. It is not what pharmacy is about. It is for this reason that I withdrew from the Government Community Drug Schemes.”
Elsewhere in the area, the dispute seems to be having very little, if indeed any major, affect. In Kilfinane, Power’s Pharmacy are continuing to dispense medicine to their regular customers only while all four pharmacies in Mitchelstown are operating the medical card scheme as it stands.
“I will continue to dispense medicine to my customers but I am doing so because I have to. If I stopped it would be the final nail in the coffin for my business and it seems that is what Minister Harney and the HSE want for a lot of pharmacies around the country,” one Mitchelstown pharmacist told The Avondhu this week.
The pharmacies in Mitchelstown are not withdrawing from the scheme. Peter Murphy of The Abbey Pharmacy is continuing to work with the HSE under protest.
“For now we are continuing to operate as normal for the month of August. Minister Harney must at least sit down and discuss the situation with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU). The enforced 34% cut is a drastic move no matter how you look at it. We have had to let three people go already and this is having a knock on effect on the service we offer our customers and this can’t continue,” Mr Murphy told The Avondhu.
In Fermoy all five pharmacies are operating as normal. They have, however, expressed their anger at how they see the HSE and the Minister for Health treating their businesses.
A spokesperson for the HSE would not comment on Minister Harney’s refusal to discuss the situation with the pharmacists but did confirm reports that a number of threats of violence have been made against locum pharmacists working in the temporary dispensing centres which it has established because of the dispute with community pharmacists over fees.
Thursday 6th August 7:34pm