HSE services disrupted as medical scientists strike over pay parity

Wednesday, May 18, 2022
author picture Louis Robert
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HSE Services Disrupted As Medical Scientists Strike Over Pay Parity With Biochemists

A medical scientists' strike over pay parity with biochemists is impacting HSE services. Despite the recent deferral of action‚ it is still unclear if the strike will be resolved in the Building Momentum Public Service Pay Agreement. Burnout among medical scientists is fuelling the recruitment and retention crisis. The medical scientists have long been at odds with HSE management and a recent industrial action has only fuelled this tension.

Medical scientists strike over pay parity with biochemists

Dublin laboratory workers are staging an industrial action over pay and career issues. Hundreds of medical scientists are striking for 12 hours on Monday. Routine laboratory services are being suspended as a result of the strike. The striking workers are affected by routine hospital and GP services as well. Dr Mary-Anne Horgan‚ a union representative‚ says that the strike has affected her personal life and the quality of her career. A 2001 expert group report recommended that medical scientists be paid on parity with biochemists. The recommendation was briefly implemented‚ but was largely lost in the benchmarking process of public service roles in June 2002. The MLSA said it was unsatisfactory progress towards pay parity with biochemists. It also said that career progression issues were a concern. Despite the lack of progress on pay‚ MLSA members voted overwhelmingly to strike. The dispute has a long history and is not new. MLSA members have been negotiating with the government on pay and career development since 2002. While the talks on pay and career development are still ongoing‚ there have been many cases of unfilled positions as medical scientists have failed to attract applicants. The issue has also led to a recruitment and retention crisis in the health sector. As a result‚ 20% of approved positions in hospital laboratories are not filled. In addition‚ the majority of disciplines require 24 hours a day‚ 365 days a year. Some scientists spend more time in a laboratory than at home. A senior HSE official has warned against further strikes by medical scientists. Any further strike action would have serious consequences on the health of patients. Moreover‚ further strike action will only prolong the time it takes for emergency work to be performed. Hence‚ the HSE is engaged in talks with the Workplace Relations Commission. Further‚ the HSE has warned that it will not tolerate two days of disruption for its patients. The industrial action took place yesterday. The industrial action was called for by hundreds of medical scientists. It lasted eight hours and affected over 14‚000 outpatient appointments‚ analysis of blood samples‚ scans‚ and routine GP testing. The strike is aimed at highlighting the retention problems. A stalled pay dispute has made medical scientists one of the forgotten parts of the health service. So the unions called for a halt to the industrial action‚ but the government backed off. The union represents 1‚800 employees in public and private hospitals‚ as well as the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. In 2001 and 2002‚ medical scientists lost pay parity with other scientists‚ and today they are paid 8% less. Despite these difficulties‚ the medical scientists have a long and important history. They are proud to serve the medical profession‚ and deserve a fair pay system. So the unions are not taking the strike lightly‚ but it is a sign of strength and unity in the field.

HSE services disrupted by industrial action

More than 2‚000 medical scientists are taking industrial action over a decades-long pay dispute. They are demanding parity with their colleagues working in laboratories. These scientists carry out a range of diagnostic tests and analyse tissue samples. If the dispute is not resolved soon‚ patients will suffer disruption to healthcare services. Despite the threat of industrial action‚ HSE has made every effort to avoid any disruption to services. The HSE has rescheduled procedures and appointments as a result of the strike and has said it is negotiating with all parties to avoid industrial action. The HSE says that it is disappointed in the industrial action by the medical scientists and continues to engage with them to avoid industrial action. However‚ the Department of Health says it is disappointed that the dispute has not been resolved and that the strike action is breaching the terms of the public sector pay deal. While the industrial action has caused a significant disruption to HSE services‚ it is important to remember that many medical scientists have been raising concerns about their recruitment for several years. Despite the difficulties‚ they managed to avoid industrial action during the recent pandemic. Instead‚ they have been working extremely hard under difficult conditions. However‚ the medical scientists' association is still negotiating with the Workplace Relations Commission and is committed to working with them to ensure pay parity. Today's strike will continue for a further two or three days if there is no agreement on the issue. The strike is a result of the long-standing pay dispute between medical scientists and biochemists. Medical laboratory scientists are currently paid eight percent less than their biochemist colleagues. The union says that this disparity is unacceptable. It is attempting to achieve parity between the two professions and the HSE is urging employers to address the issue. Despite the difficulties of the dispute‚ the striking workers have demonstrated that it is vital to find a solution to the pay parity problem. This is particularly crucial given the current shortage of medical scientists and the difficult recruitment and retention issues that these workers face. If these workers don't get fair pay‚ the medical services system will be at risk of deteriorating. They also face serious career concerns that are affecting their recruitment and retention rates. This latest round of strikes is a blow to the health service. As many people know‚ medical scientists are vital for the provision of quality healthcare. They carry out identical tasks and are a vital part of the health service. However‚ their pay is 8% less than their colleagues and they don't have as many opportunities for career development. And with the increasing workload‚ they face significant difficulties in recruitment and retention.

Recruitment and retention crisis fuelling burnout among medical scientists

The recruitment and retention crisis in the healthcare sector has exacerbated the situation‚ with vacancies in some disciplines going unfilled and pay levels falling significantly. A recent expert group report called for equal pay for biochemists and medical scientists but‚ despite being implemented for two months‚ the recommendations were lost in the public service benchmarking process of 2002. Despite the recommendations‚ the recruitment and retention crisis in the healthcare sector continues to aggravate the situation‚ with 20% of approved posts going unfilled in hospitals. In some disciplines‚ researchers spend more time in the lab than they do in their homes. Recent research shows that more than half of US physicians and one-third of nurses are suffering from significant symptoms of burnout. Physician burnout is linked to long work hours and many other factors‚ and is more prevalent among those working in front-line specialties. Over one-third of physicians also experience depression. Burnout has numerous effects on the performance of medical professionals‚ and is likely to exacerbate the physician shortage. This article outlines the prevalence of burnout‚ its causes‚ and the possible solutions. A lack of research funding is the major cause of burnout among medical scientists. Fortunately‚ there are some solutions to the recruitment and retention crisis. A five-year program for medical students that teaches research methods and promotes critical thinking skills has been devised by Mount Sinai. In addition‚ medical students can be trained in research techniques through a variety of other means. For example‚ an alternative approach for clinical trials involves using online video-conferencing. The challenges of recruitment and retention have increased significantly in the past year. But the staffing problems will not end anytime soon. Agency leaders must begin addressing these long-standing problems now. And in the post-pandemic world‚ this will continue to be a top priority. But in the meantime‚ the situation is only getting worse. The key to resolving the recruitment and retention crisis is to balance tactical decisions today with strategic workforce planning tomorrow. The key to the future of medical research is involving the next generation of physician-scientists. In this vein‚ a recent survey by the Faculty of Medical Sciences has identified some opportunities for medical students to become involved in research. However‚ more students are disinclined to take up research because of lack of funding‚ and the difficulty of finding suitable research supervisors. The study also found that male medical students expressed greater interest in science than female students. While the reasons for leaving an institution vary by individual‚ the majority of voluntary dismissals in hospitals are due to dissatisfaction with the work. In turn‚ this leads to dissatisfaction among employees‚ which ultimately translates into poor patient care. The problem is not just limited to the medical field. In fact‚ the current crisis in medical science has implications for all fields‚ from pharmaceuticals to education.