Thousands more hospital outpatient appointments are set to be cancelled next week after the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) confirmed its intention to strike again over pay and conditions.
The action will see the withdrawal of routine laboratory services, such as the analysing of blood and urine samples, scans and other tests, from 8am to 8pm on Tuesday, May 24th, and Wednesday, May 25th.
Strike action by the sector last Wednesday had a “significant impact” on healthcare services, the HSE said.
The industrial action comes after rounds of talks with the HSE, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform failed to bring about a resolution.
In a statement, the MLSA said no further talks between the HSE or Department of Health has taken place since last week’s stoppage.
The union said it had made every effort to avoid disruption to patients and fellow healthcare workers but had been left with no alternative.
If no progress is made a further three days of action are planned by MLSA members on May 31st, June 1st and June 2nd.
MLSA chairperson Kevin O’Boyle said medical scientists did not want to be stepping up the action but severe problems and burnout in the sector were being ignored by the HSE and the Department of Health.
It is understood that biochemists who work only in biochemistry earn more than medical scientists who work across the laboratory. Young medical scientists who work as laboratory aides while studying also find themselves taking a pay cut when they qualify.
The MLSA has 2,100 members with the vast majority set to return to the picket line this week. It is only the second time in the sector’s 60-year history that action has been taken.
They have also expressed concern about young professionals in their field leaving the sector for more lucrative pay and better conditions in the pharmaceutical industry.
Medical scientists were involved in the rollout and increase of capacity of State’s Covid testing system during the pandemic.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee last Wednesday, HSE chief Paul Reid said the strike action had a “significant impact” on healthcare services.
“I’d like to recognise again, and have done very publicly, the role they [medical scientists] have played through Covid-19 has been phenomenal.
“The response and the sacrifices they and many other healthcare workers have made has been exemplary.”