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HSE warning of ‘significant disruption’ as Medical Laboratory Scientists set for strike action

Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise
Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise

The HSE is warning of significant disruption and service delays in hospitals, tomorrow Wednesday May 18 from 8am-8pm, due to the planned industrial action by the MLSA.

Medical Laboratory Scientists are responsible for over 80% of clinical diagnoses that take place on a daily basis.

Every time you go to the GP for routine bloodwork, a sore throat, or any sort of infection, samples are sent to us to process and we provide the diagnosis and suitable treatment options.

Moreover, hospitals and emergency medicine cannot function without laboratories. Behind every sample and test, there are highly qualified scientists.

The MLSA say the strikes in question are seeking to address a 20-year pay disparity issue, the shortage of medical scientists and the lack of career progression.

Further strikes are planned on May 24, 25 and 31 as well as June 1 and 2.

The MLSA say: “We have made every effort to avoid taking industrial action, because of the serious impact it will have on the health service and on patient care, and to protect benefits already held by members.

“However despite lengthy negotiations, it has not been possible to secure a mechanism to resolve our claim and it is now clear that without industrial action we cannot achieve our longstanding goal and rightful expectation of parity with clinical biochemists, as recommended by the 2001 Expert Group and accepted by the HSE and Department of Health.”

The laboratory in Portlaoise provides vital services for Portlaoise Hospital, all GPs in the area, and all nursing homes and daycare units.

As a result, the HSE have outlined the impact that the strike will have on their services.

They say: “This will lead to the cancellation of many inpatient and day-case elective procedures and hospital outpatient appointments across the country.

“All routine GP testing services will be suspended on the day. Some limited services will continue but unfortunately there will be wide scale disruption to patients.

“Emergency Departments are already experiencing the knock on effect of this action today as GPs cannot send routine lab tests to hospitals and instead have had to refer patients directly to emergency departments.

“This is leading to delays for patients with non-urgent care needs and such delays are expected to continue tomorrow.

“The HSE is continuing to seek further derogations relating to patients in hospitals on Wednesday and for priority scopes.

“Emergency Departments will continue as always to prioritise the treatment of the sickest and most urgent patients.

“Since yesterday hospitals have been contacting patients directly to cancel appointments. As this is a developing situation we would ask patients not to phone hospitals at this time.

“Hospitals will provide further clarity and details as soon as possible and information from all hospitals is available on  www.hse.ie/disruptions

“While efforts are continuing to try to avert this action, the HSE is working with the MLSA to ensure arrangements are in place tomorrow for the provision of a limited range of services safely.

“Appointments and procedures disrupted by the strikes will be rescheduled as soon as possible.”

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