IPU Annual Report
The Annual Report of the IPU Executive Committee provides an update of the previous 12 months of the IPU. The Report is presented in advance of the Annual General Meeting.
Message from the President of the IPU
It gives me great pleasure to present the IPU Annual Report, which details the work undertaken on your behalf by the Committees and staff of the IPU.
We are now more than a year into the Global Pandemic and have seen the impact that fourteen months of rolling lockdowns, staff quarantines and restricted access to GP services has had on our businesses. While the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme has provided a light at the end of the tunnel, at the time of writing this address, despite our constant engagement with the Department of Health and their assurances, we have not been given a start date for our participation in the rollout. This is incredibly frustrating for all our members who have invested in training staff and in modifying their premises so as to be able to provide a safe environment for patients receiving their vaccinations. We need to be cognisant of the fact that vaccination against Covid-19 will have to be maintained over the long term and mass vaccination clinics are not the solution going forward. The delay in our participation thus far has been due to lack of supply and safety concerns; however, I am confident we will be participating soon.
There has been some dissatisfaction expressed to me over the progress the IPU is making towards a new contract, new revenue streams, reversal of the FEMPI cuts and recognition of the work pharmacists do on a daily basis for no renumeration. I share this frustration but the impediments to progressing these goals do not lie internally. The biggest obstacle to progress, obviously, has been the pandemic and while the Government has concentrated on little else for the last year the committees and staff of the IPU continue to provide an excellent service for its members. This was evident in, for example, the provision of daily updates to IPU members to help guide them through the rapidly unfolding situation at the start of the pandemic. During this period, the Union also secured a significant relaxation of the qualifying criteria for vital grants to offset the costs incurred in making our premises safe for our customers and staff, enabling pharmacies to qualify for the funding.
Staff safety has been at the forefront of our concerns in the past year and, thankfully, all of our pharmacists and pharmacy staff are now vaccinated against COVID-19. This follows significant engagement between the IPU and Government on the matter. Our involvement didn’t end once the vaccination of our pharmacists and staff started. We worked closely with pharmacies and the HSE until every last pharmacy had been attended to.
We continue to engage with the PCRS to minimise the day-to-day bureaucratic workload on pharmacists and to make sure we get paid appropriately. While the Healthmail service has brought many advantages we still want to progress a fit for purpose ePrescribing system and not return to the paper-based labour-intensive system we had pre-pandemic. We have also set out our new Statement of Strategy which will inform the work we do for the next three years. While some of our very popular Academy services were disrupted last year, we have updated them and can now deliver them online going forward.
The webinars on Covid-19 vaccination were among the highest ever attended and viewed. The website is in the process of being updated to be more user friendly and to be a better tool for the day to day needs of our members.
Given the role played by individual pharmacists in providing community healthcare during the pandemic, it does not surprise me that in the recent Ipsos MRBI poll we are now the most trusted Healthcare profession in Ireland, surpassing nurses for the first time.
Your Union will continue to promote the professional and economic interests of members despite the challenges faced and I would like to commend all committee members, staff of the Union and the Secretary General for their efforts in keeping such a high level of service throughout this difficult time.
Stay safe and hopefully we can meet again in person soon.