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Court ruling on pharmacies exposes Government failure to ensure direct talks – Ó Caoláin

11 September, 2008

Commenting on the High Court ruling in favour of pharmacies in the drugs payment dispute, Sinn Fein Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

"This ruling exposes the failure of Government to clear the obstacles to direct talks between the HSE and the pharmacists' representative body, the Irish Pharmaceutical Union, on the new contract for the General Medical Services Scheme. It is at the negotiating table and in the Oireachtas that this issue should be resolved, not through the courts.

"The Government has repeatedly claimed that the Competition Act prevents negotiations on this contract between the HSE and the IPU yet it has done nothing to address this alleged legal obstacle. Now a court has ruled that the HSE's actions in altering fees paid to pharmacists represented a breach of contract.

"This is a mess of the Government's making and it must sort the matter out. It must ensure that GMS patients receive the medication they need, that the health service gets value for money and that pharmacists can work under a fair contract.

"This ruling may have implications for dentists who are also in dispute with the HSE over their refusal to negotiate directly on a new GMS contract for their services. Thousands of medical card holders have been denied dental treatment as a result of that dispute." ENDS

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