Hospital lab scientists continue strike this week

Medical scientists are set to step up industrial action this week, after a one-day strike last week caused disruption at hospitals.

The Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) said it must take union action on issues such as pay disparities and career development issues.

Two new strike days are now scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, May 24 and 25.

The union said no approach had been made to them by the HSE or the Department of Health since last week.

The action will again involve the withdrawal of routine laboratory services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both days, affecting routine hospital services and general practitioners across the country.

MLSA chairman Kevin O’Boyle said medical scientists did not want to step up action, but he said serious problems and burnout in the sector were being ignored by the HSE and the Department of Health. health.

The main issues raised by the union include the disparity in pay, an 8% difference with medical biochemists when doing the same work.

Medical laboratory assistants who report to medical scientists start with a higher salary than them.

He also said there are few career progression opportunities for medical laboratory scientists, despite an ever-expanding role and workload.

“All of these issues lead to a recruitment and retention crisis. 20% of approved hospital positions go unfilled and it’s not sustainable to continue like this,” said Kevin O’Boyle.

“We need an efficient structure for this profession that can guarantee the necessary personnel to carry out the work required. Addressing these issues will benefit patients and the health services they receive.

The MLSA is an affiliate of SIPTU, which represents over 2,100 members providing laboratory services in the HSE, public and private hospitals, universities and laboratories.

MLSA general secretary Terry Casey said they have been raising the issue of pay disparity with clinical biochemists since 2001, when an expert report recommended parity.

“The pay parity then granted was lost within months following a procedural error in the civil service benchmark prices in June 2002.”

The issue was renewed again in January 2020, but “rounds of proposals and discussions” over the next two years yielded no results, he added.

Lillian L. Pena