Medical Scientists are taking industrial action this Wednesday May 18th - including those at University Hospital Waterford – in frustration over long-standing pay and career development issues.
The action means that routine laboratory services are being withdrawn from 8am-8pm. This will affect routine hospital and GP services across the country.
The workplace of the majority of Medical Scientists is at laboratories in public hospitals.
The Union representing Medical Scientists – the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) – said it has made every effort to avoid disruption to patients and fellow healthcare workers, but has been left with no alternative.
Industrial action follows many rounds of unsuccessful talks with HSE & Department of Health.
In a ballot of MLSA members last November, 98% voted in favour of taking the action.
Why is the action being taken?
There are significant levels of burnout and frustration among medical scientists because of a severe recruitment and retention problem
Up to 20% of approved Medical Scientist posts are unfilled in hospitals - while medical scientists carry out identical work to other colleagues in hospital laboratories, yet are paid on average 8% less.
Many feel that they have fewer career development opportunities and less support for training and education than comparable colleagues. The role for laboratory diagnostics is currently expanding with increasing responsibility and workloads.
MLSA General Secretary Terry Casey said the Union is seeking meaningful talks with the HSE and Department of Health. He said it is a long-standing dispute which the MLSA has made repeated efforts to resolve.
A number of scientists in Waterford are among the many taking to the picket line across Ireland today. Speaking with WLR, they say that industrial action has been borne out of years of frustration.
This woman has worked in the industry for over 20 years, and says issues have come to a head.
Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA)
The MLSA is the Trade Union representing scientists, the scientific professionals who carry out critical diagnostic testing of patient samples. It represents more than 2,100 Medical Scientists employed in public voluntary hospitals, HSE hospitals, private hospitals and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.
If no progress is made a further two days of action are planned for May 24th and 25th. Three further days of action are planned for May 31st, June 1st and June 2nd.