In the opening salvo in the Pharmacy ‘war’ the HSE have warned pharmacists of their obligations under existing contracts, if they withdraw from the State Drug Scheme without, what they say is requisite notice.
And it could get nastier before the plaster is applied and the healing begins:
The HSE warned:
“Any such action would require the HSE to insist that the pharmacy continues to honour the terms of the Community Pharmacy Contractor Agreement. In the event that this is unsuccessful it may be necessary to pursue the matter through legal means.
But the IPU, the Irish Pharmaceutical Union which represents the pharmacists claim that lists issued by the HSE included members who had already indicated to them that they were withdrawing from the scheme as of August 1st.
A north west based pharmacist told irishdigest.com:
“The list that were published contained names of people who have already indicated that they were withdrawing from the scheme. In some cases the HSE claimed that the pharmacists in question had not adhered to the correct procedure for termination of their contracts. There is a high level of anger out there and we want to get back to do what do best and that is caring for the community.”
But Laverne McGuinness, National Director of the HSE’s Primary, Continuing and Community Care said:
“The pharmacy network in Ireland is central to the health service and provides crucial and highly professional service and we are anxious to support and strengthen it.
“However, the cost to tax-payers to provide medicines under the State Drug Schemes is unsustainable. It is now approaching €2 billion annually and we must continue to put in place efficiency measures to address these escalating costs.
“The vast majority of patients and clients get a month’s medication at a time so there should be ample time for patients and clients whose usual pharmacy has withdrawn from the State Drug Scheme to make alternative arrangements.”
Due to pharmacies withdrawing their termination notices in some areas, the HSE has put two of its contingency dispensing facilities (Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim and Falcarragh, Co. Donegal) on standby and they will not be in operation from 1st August 2009. Where necessary the HSE has put in place alternative arrangements to ensure that everyone who requires medicines under the State Drugs Schemes can continue to access them (see below). The opening hours of these facilities will be Monday to Friday 10am – 8pm (excluding Bank Holiday Monday) and Saturdays 10am – 6pm.
Aras Naomh Chaolain, Knock Road, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon
Donegal Community Hospital, Donegal Town, Co.Donegal
Dungloe Community Hospital, Dungloe, Co. Donegal
St Joseph’s Community Hospital, Stranolar, Co. Donegal
St Marys Hospital, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Ballina Health Centre, Mercy Road, Ballina, Co Mayo
Arus Deirbhle, Belmullet, Co Mayo
Caherciveen Hospital, Caherciveen, Co. Kerry
19 Denny Street , Tralee, Co. Kerry
Listowel Community Hospital, Listowel, Co. Kerry
Patients who are concerned they may require additional supports should contact the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850, which will be open from 8am until 8pm on Saturday.
Termination Procedure according to HSE
Pharmacies who wish to terminate their Agreements with the HSE must provide a valid 30 day written notice and importantly must continue to be available to fill prescriptions under the State Drug Schemes during this 30 day period. If, for example, a pharmacy submitted a valid termination notice on 31st July they must continue to fill prescriptions under the State Drug Schemes until 30th August.
A pharmacy that withdraws service during this 30 day notice period they would be in breach of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act 2009. Any such action would require the HSE to insist that the pharmacy continues to honour the terms of the Community Pharmacy Contractor Agreement. In the event that this is unsuccessful it may be necessary to pursue the matter through legal means.
The withdrawal of State Drug Scheme services without fulfilling the 30 days notice period which resulted in patients being refused service and would be subject to Part 6 of the Pharmacy Act 2007, which comes into effect on Saturday 1st August 2009. This provides for Complaints, Inquires and Discipline regime for pharmacists and pharmacy businesses.