Many surgeries and outpatient hospital appointments are canceled Wednesday due to planned industrial action by medical laboratory workers central to analyzing patient tests.
The HSE has warned of serious service delays from 8am to 8pm.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said this will result in the cancellation of many inpatient and outpatient elective procedures and outpatient hospital appointments across the country. All routine GP testing services will be suspended on that day.
Members of the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) are taking action in a long-running dispute over pay and vacancies.
The HSE said services that will continue include dialysis and some cancer services.
“As of today, Monday, hospitals are reaching out directly to patients. As this is an evolving situation, we are asking patients not to call hospitals at this time,” it said.
“Hospitals will provide further clarity and details as soon as possible and we will be posting information and updates from hospitals on HSE.ie from tomorrow.
“While efforts continue to avert this action, the HSE is working with the MLSA to ensure arrangements are in place for the safe delivery of a limited range of services on the day.”
The HSE understands the measure will have an impact on emergency departments and is likely to cause delays for patients with non-urgent care needs.
“Emergency rooms will operate as usual, prioritizing treatment of the sickest and most urgent patients.
“Dates and processes disrupted by the strikes will be made up for as soon as possible.
The medical scientists said they are taking the action “out of frustration over long-standing pay and career development issues.”
The action means routine lab services on Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., will be halted.
The workplace of most medical scientists is in laboratories in public hospitals.
The union representing medical scientists, the MLSA, said it had made every effort to avoid disruption to patients and healthcare workers but had no alternative.
The action follows many unsuccessful rounds of talks with HSE, the Department of Health, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Public Service Agreement Group.
In a vote by MLSA members last November, 98 percent voted to go ahead with the action.
If no progress is made, two more days of action are planned for May 24th and 25th.
Three more action days are planned for May 31st, June and June 2nd.
MLSA Chair Kevin O’Boyle said there was great frustration and burnout among medical professionals due to a serious recruitment and retention problem that had been ignored by employers for many years, and he outlined the issues that needed to be addressed .
“Up to 20 percent of licensed medical scientist positions are vacant in hospitals,” he said.
Medical scientists do the same work as other colleagues in hospital laboratories but are paid 8 percent less on average, he said.
And they have fewer career development opportunities and less support for education and training than their peers
The role of laboratory diagnostics is currently expanding with increasing responsibility and workload.
“We need to achieve a sustainable work structure for the profession and this will benefit patients and the quality and efficiency of the healthcare services they receive.”
MLSA general secretary Terry Casey said the union was seeking meaningful discussions with the HSE and the Department of Health.
He said it was a longstanding dispute that the MLSA had repeatedly tried to resolve.
“The MLSA’s claim to parity with fellow clinical biochemists dates back to 2001, when an expert panel report recommended pay parity between grades.
“The then granted pay parity was lost within months due to an unintentional procedural error in the first public service comparisons in June 2002.
“In January 2020, against the backdrop of a severe and deepening recruitment and retention crisis, the MLSA renewed its long-standing commitment to equal pay and career progression with clinical biochemists and sought collaboration with HSE and the Department of Health (DOH).
“More than two years later and after many rounds of proposals and talks, these issues have not been resolved and there is now an even more significant nationwide shortage of medical scientists,” he added.
https://www.independent.ie/news/industrial-action-by-lab-workers-will-lead-to-surgeries-and-hospital-outpatient-appointments-being-cancelled-this-week-41655934.html Industrial action by laboratory workers will result in surgeries and outpatient hospital appointments being canceled this week