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Pharmacists in Ireland have said that services could suffer wide disruption as they meet for crisis talks over the state’s controversial cost-cutting plan.
The Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) issued the warning after revealing that it expects at least 500 pharmacists to attend the meeting in Dublin, although it stressed that medicines will be available in emergencies.
The IPU is in dispute with the Health Service Executive (HSE), which is reducing payments to pharmacists under the community drugs scheme as part of a 100 million euro a year cost-savings initiative.
Pharmacists claim that the plans will cause 300 outlets to go out of business and will reduce the level of service to patients.
An IPU spokeswoman said: “The emergency meeting has been called to consider the implications of the HSE’s failure to negotiate contractual changes with the pharmacists’ representative body and the HSE’s force through of changes without agreement.
“My understanding is that pharmacists will ensure there will be a supply of medicines for patients there in an emergency situation.”
The IPU, which represents around 1,600 pharmacists, has accused the HSE of abusing its position by trying to implement changes to the community drugs scheme without agreement.
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