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Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) to go on multiple days of strikes

  • 17-05-2022 5:23pm
    Registered Users Posts: 12,346 ✭✭✭✭

    The MLSA has warned that if no progress is made, a further two days of action are planned for 24 May and 25 May, with three further strikes planned for 31 May, 1 June and 2 June.

    The chairperson of the MLSA Kevin O'Boyle said there is huge frustration and burn-out among medical scientists because of a severe recruitment and retention problem.

    "Up to 20% of approved medical scientist posts are unfilled in hospitals," Mr O'Boyle said.

    "Medical scientists carry out identical work to other colleagues in hospital laboratories, yet are paid on average 8% less," he added.

    The MLSA says it has made every effort to avoid disruption to patients and fellow healthcare workers but has been left with no alternative.

    The union represents more than 2,100 medical scientists employed in public voluntary hospitals, HSE hospitals, private hospitals and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

    Selfish lot

    “I can’t pay my staff or mortgage with instagram likes”.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    Medical Scientists are striking because the HSE have not addressed the pay parity and chronic staff shortages that have been going on for over 20 years.

    The profession is ignored because it is not patient facing. Medical scientists were getting ready for industrial action in 2020, but instead had to implement a national testing service in a matter of weeks with no extra staff. On top of all the other routine testing carried out 24 hours a day.

    This is far from selfish. This is a profession who has been taken advantage of for years who have had enough.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,453 ✭✭✭History Queen

    I don't understand how this can be interpreted as selfish. It sounds like they're being treayed badly and have made other efforts to resolve their grievances.

  • Registered Users Posts: 82,249 ✭✭✭✭Overheal

    I'm sure if the OP found out he was earning the same amount as his peers, he'd offer to make less 'for the company' /s

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 11,261 Mod ✭✭✭✭igCorcaigh

    My original degree was in BioMed, but I knew the career wasn't for me. I wish them luck. It's an interesting area to work in, but the job can be tedious and understaffed.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 11,261 Mod ✭✭✭✭igCorcaigh

    What does Kevin mean by:

    "Medical scientists carry out identical work to other colleagues in hospital laboratories, yet are paid on average 8% less,"

    What other colleagues in hospital labs?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    In hospital laboratories there are different departments such as Microbiology, Haematology, Blood transfusion, Histopathology and Biochemistry etc.

    Some hospitals have other specialist departments like Temple Street has a metabolic lab, Crumlin has cytogenetics, Beaumont have a toxicology and transplant lab. The IBTS is on the grounds of St James. All of these labs are staffed with medical scientists.

    Biochemists can only work in Biochemistry departments. They carry out the same job as medical scientists in the same dept but are paid more, have more career advancement opportunities, and can earn extra money working on call at nights and weekends. Many hospitals don't even have any Biochemists.

    Medical Scientists are looking for equal pay for equal work. This was promised over 20 years ago and not delivered.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 11,261 Mod ✭✭✭✭igCorcaigh

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo

    I hate when you go into a job and sign a blank contract without knowing the rates of pay.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    Do you criticise people who go into nursing knowing they're also poorly paid or understaffed. Do you criticise people who choose medicine knowing their conditions are deteriorating and will probably be the next to strike.

    This profession changes at a rapid pace. Workloads increase 5% every year, yet staff numbers do not. The technology, the instrumentation, the demands, the workloads are drastically different to what they were when many medical scientists started working.

    Equal pay for equal work is not an unreasonable demand.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo

    The technology would have decreased the workload massively. You can only do what you can do. If tests aren't done, thats on the higher ups.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    No it doesn't. You need more equipment, bigger advanced analyers with higher throughput to keep up with the increasing workload.

    If tests aren't done, it is left to the medical scientists to find a way to make it happen.

    There is a constant pressure and guilt put on the profession to find a way because it is the patients who suffer, not the HSE.

  • Registered Users Posts: 355 ✭✭NiceFella

    And what? Most jobs that have a heavy regulatory protocol would have increased in workload due to better understanding of risk factors involved through time. Quite often leads to more checks and balances to undertake more work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo

    Exactly, and you can only do so much in a day. A few weeks of samples going off and the excrement hitting the extractor and more staff would be hired. This american culture of going above and beyond your pay grade needs to be stomped out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 872 ✭✭✭doc22

    Looking for equality for a role that's rather specialist seems counter-intuitive. Like What's to stop Laboratory Scientists to apply for Biochemists role if available. Your description doesn't make them look the same at all.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    Biochemists are not needed for a Biochemistry lab to function. There is no difference to the work a medical scientist does and a biochemist does in the same dept.

    Some hospitals have multidisciplinary on call rotas. Meaning you have to be qualified to work in other departments apart from your own. Private hospital labs are much smaller and medical scientists are qualified to work in all departments.

    The role of a biochemist is historic in the sense that many years ago they were the only ones with university degrees. The role of lab technicians was used for other staff who had diplomas and then trained on the job.

    Now medical scientist is a protected title. You need an accredited degree that is recognised by the AMLS. You need state registration from CORU. Most people also have a masters as you need it for promotion.

    There used to be a difference in the education and role between biochemists and medical scientists. There isn't now, and there hasn't been for some time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    I would also clarify that medical scientists can be employed as Biochemists. Biochemists cannot be medical scientists.

    If you don't have medical scientists, you don't have a pathology department. The hospitals and healthcare grinds to a halt.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,903 ✭✭✭✭Goldengirl

    I hope the HSE and MoH get this inequity addressed quickly. Leaving it 20 years is a joke .

    And they try to infer they are concerned about patient care !

    They were happy to leave the situation build and of course MLSU had the dignity and professionalism not to cause trouble during the worst of the pandemic.

    Imagine if you guys had taken action and downed tools when testing for Covid was at a premium and everyone in labs all over the country were working overtime ? No ye didn't ...that is why they need to step up now and reward that hard work with equal pay .

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,078 ✭✭✭salonfire

    If the HSE caved into this demand, then another group will go on strike for similar reasons, and the merry go-round continues. We already had the nurses trying to compare themselves to physios and pharmacists.

    Medical scientists should be on trial for manslauhgter for any patient deaths during the strikes. Might soften a few coughs of the over entitled medical professions. If you want a better paying job, go and apply for it.

  • Posts: 5,917 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Were your parents related or did they just rock you to close to the wall?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    Emergency services were provided today and a list of derogations negotiated prior to day to ensure patient safety. Laboratories were still staffed.

    So you can rest assured medical scientists were not prepared to let anyone die.

    This isn't a demand looking for a pay raise for the sake of it. This is asking for what was promised in 2001 and never delivered.

    The profession is at a serious risk of falling apart due to losing staff and the healthcare of the nation would go with it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,306 ✭✭✭newhouse87

    What kind of money do medical scientists make?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    Biochemist salary starts at 37,307

    Medical scientists start on 34,420

    A lab aide (only requires leaving cert and are supervised by med labs) starts on 34,511.

    New graduates often start as lab aides until they get a job as a medical scientist.

    That means they take a pay CUT to start working in the job they qualified for.

    If you take 2 people who finished school, one starts as a lab aide and one goes to college to do the degree, it takes 11 years for the medical scientist to make more than a lab aide.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Veld21

    You can easily look up the pay scales online. MLAs only earn more for the first point on the pay scale. You also have to take into account that MLAs work and are paid for 39 hours while Medical Scientist are paid for 35 hours. Medical Scientist also get more annual leave days.

    And that's the basic salary. It doesn't include what is paid for On call/Overtime.

    Also there are MLAs who have gone to college and have degrees.

    Post edited by Veld21 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    Yes there are. And I don't mean to negate that. They do a lot of work and the lab wouldn't function without them either.

    Some lab aides in our hospital have degrees and some have clerical backgrounds.

    Medical scientist contracts are 37 hours. On call is "voluntary" but in departments that are short staffed, on call is more or less mandatory because someone has to do it. On call is also not part of the contracted week. Working a weekend day or night doesn't count towards the 37 hours.

    I don't want this to seem like pay is the only issue here. The biggest problem is the chronic staff shortages.

    People in this thread have said sure go get a job that pays more. That's exactly what graduates are doing.

    Ireland can't have he diagnostic side of healthcare fall apart. It will lead to more cancelled appointments, curtailed GP testing and delayed diagnoses. We've seen the impact outsourcing cervical check has had. Imagine that happening to all areas of healthcare.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,306 ✭✭✭newhouse87

    Jesus that's v poor salary for 5 years training, i done first year but quit it as it wasn't for me. Went into pharma industry instead.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Veld21

    Yes. They work 37 hours at the moment. But only 35 of those are been paid for. There is two hours of Haddington road. And from 1st July, it will go down to working 35 hours.

    I know its not all about pay. There are so many vacant MS posts. A lot of people who graduate with a Biomed degree go into industry and some go on to med school.

    If there were other ways to train to be a medical scientist that would help get more scientists.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,421 ✭✭✭✭blanch152

    Most go on to Senior Medical Scientist which peaks at 67k, more than a teacher.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    What do you mean most. Where's the proof of that. A lot of people remain as basic grades. Particularly now.

    20% of posts are vacant. Not just at entry level. It's becoming harder to fill senior and chief posts. What's the incentive to seek promotion and take on more responsibilities for a short staffed dept.

    Another one of the strike issues is career progression. You can't become a senior unless a post opens up due to someone leaving or retirement. In smaller hospitals, this can take many years. Theres a ceiling on people's potential. Whereas Biochemists can gain promotion up to consultant.

    In the UK medical scientists can study and train in their area of expertise right up to consultant. They're able to make great advances in diagnostics and laboratory medicine.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,078 ✭✭✭salonfire

    How dare you use the suffering of cerival cancer patients as a means to further your ideology and propaganda. If you're the professional you claim to be, then you should know the American system is very different with a higher testing frequency. That's why the labs there operate differently and review labs differently.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Martina1991

    What are you on about. I made no dig at cervical cancer patients. My point was that the government cannot afford to outsource more laboratory testing to private companies as it will have huge impacts on other aspects of healthcare. Ireland has no control over the policies and procedures international private labs.

    The government were warned extensively about the dangers that would arise from outsourcing cervical check back in 2008, and the government went ahead and did it anyway.