A long-running dispute between the Department of Health, the HSE and about 500 hospital pharmacists has been resolved with confirmation that a deal has been reached after “a long drawn-out negotiation”.
The deal, which is to be implemented and backdated to December 1st, includes pay rises of about 20 per cent for many pharmacists and the creation of some new, higher grades.
The dispute related to the implementation of the Hospital Pharmacy Review, a report compiled by Dr Ambrose McLoughlin which was originally delivered in November 2011 and then updated in 2017.
It provided for shorter pay scales for hospital pharmacists along with an enhanced career structure and the creation of new senior grades. This was to be done in return for cost-saving measures, the value of which was ultimately put at €55 million.
Hospital pharmacists who were members of the trade union Fórsa voted a year ago for industrial action in pursuit of an agreement on implementation of the measures, but a proposed strike was deferred after the issue was referred to the Labour Court in February 2022.
An agreement subsequently became possible due to a clause in the wider public sector pay deal agreed last year that provided for “the implementation of the McLoughlin Report with a view to commencing implementation from December 1st on a cost neutral basis”.
The eventual deal, which was first reported by Industrial Relations news on Thursday, was initially agreed between Fórsa, the department and HSE before the necessary approval from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was received. Its implementation has now been confirmed.
Under its terms, hospital pharmacists with less than 10 years service will receive significant pay rises with, for instance, those starting on the first point of the relevant scale receiving €44,265 rather than €37,180, an increase of just more than 19 per cent. Meanwhile, someone in their fourth year in the job will go from €44,265 to €53,473, an increase of some 20.8 per cent. Some staff with longer service will not benefit from the changes to the pay scales.
The deal also provides for the creation of new pharmacist executive manager grades with pay rates ranging from €75,164 up to €125,590.
Fórsa confirmed to its members on Friday that an agreement had been reached after what national secretary Linda Kelly described as “a long drawn-out negotiation”.
“The new HSE circular confirms that all the necessary arrangements are now in place,” Ms Kelly said.
“Implementation discussions on the remaining recommendations related to the deputy pharmacy executive services manager posts and the creation of advanced specialists posts will now commence.”