Credit: Pablo Nidam / Scopio

94% of Covid testing Medical Scientists vote in favour of strike 

The Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) has announced that following a ballot of its members, 94% have voted in favour of taking industrial action up to and including strike action. 

The MLSA is the Trade Union representing Medical Scientists, the scientific professionals who carry out critical diagnostic testing of patient samples including urgent testing for Covid-19.

It represents more than 1,800 Medical Scientists employed in public voluntary hospitals, HSE hospitals, private hospitals and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

Today’s announcement follows comments made the President of  theAcademy of Clinical Science and Laboratory Medicine’s Dr Brigid Lucey, 2020:

“Laboratories are constantly fire-fighting and the demands of COVID-19 demonstrated the lack of investment. The pandemic shows that the required expertise is available in Medical Scientists, but capacity and infrastructure are sadly lacking. Laboratories account for 5% of the hospital budget, yet laboratory results inform 70% of clinical decisions.”

In a statement issued today, MLSA Chairperson Kevin O’Boyle said Medical Scientists are tired of waiting for disputes relating to pay and working conditions to be resolved:

“The MLSA has taken full industrial action only once in its 60-year history so this is a big step, but we are left with no alternative – our members strongly support action.”

The Union says that it had been involved in talks with the HSE and Department of Health at the Workplace Relations Commission, but the employer side withdrew from discussions without reaching agreement in April 2021.

The MLSA say that the dispute dates back to 2002 and involves a claim for restoration of pay parity with scientific colleagues who work in Biochemistry Laboratories:

“The MLSA also claim that there remains an ongoing significant national shortage of Medical Scientists across the public health service, “in no small part due to inferior pay and conditions, poor career structure and limited promotional opportunities.”

The issues highlighted today by the MLSA have been raised repeatedly with the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly by Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan since at least September 2020.

Deputy Nolan said at that point she had been contacted by overwhelmed and overwork medical scientists who said they were at “breaking point” from the level of work being demanded of them in hospital laboratories:

“Today’s vote demonstrates yet again that this Minister and this government have ignored the build of conditions that are going to cause real havoc and yet more delays within our hospitals. This is a betrayal not only of our medical scientists, who have tried to have the issues resolved, but also of patients. At this point however, we may well ask ourselves what else could we expect from them,” the Independent TD said.”

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