We must support the scientists who have protected us during the pandemic

23 September 2021

Labour health spokesperson has given his support to the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association’s move to ballot for better pay. Highlighting the essential role medical scientists play in Covid testing and screening and testing services, Deputy Smith said that if we are serious about building a best in class health service, we need these expert lab workers to stay within the sector.

Deputy Smith said:

“It shouldn’t come as surprise that there is a ballot for industrial action in this sector. There are a number of long term industrial issues in the sector which predate COVID but the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the great work that Medical Scientists do all of the time and the Minister and HSE need to recognise this contribution. Medical scientists are unseen members of Ireland’s frontline and have played a vital role in addressing the health emergency. Their workloads have shot up throughout the pandemic, particularly as there is a massive shortage of such scientists across the public health service

“All medical scientists are seeking is recognition and respect for the hard work they do. 70% of diagnosis made by clinicians are based on test results carried out by medical scientists. Healthcare in this country simply cannot be achieved without the work of a medical scientist.

“There are more vacancies in laboratories than there are graduates to fill them and this has been the case for some time. It doesn’t take a lot to realise that there will be a breaking point. We need to address pay parity as a matter of urgency to hold onto our recent graduates. We need the career progression to retain our bright and hardworking scientists. These scientists are fundamental to every area of healthcare from diagnosis of infection, cross-matching blood transfusions and cancer diagnosis.

“This shortage has led to outsourcing much of our testing capacity in the country to the US and the UK. We need to do more to attract these highly skilled scientists to stay within the system so we can deliver best in class healthcare. I have written to the Minister and the CEO of the HSE asking them to support these frontline workers whose demands for pay parity and basic decency must be met.”

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