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Salaries for a nation-sized workload

By Fintan Moore - 01st Aug 2023

There are obvious areas where the HSE could make changes to do a better job with fewer staff, but let’s not hold our collective breath while we’re waiting, according to Fintan Moore

It can be funny to see what topics pique the public interest to such an extent that they dominate discussion in the media. The revelations of financial mismanagement in RTÉ, especially the covert payments to Ryan Tubridy have received coverage that dwarfed stories such as record-breaking temperature extremes around the world, and the phenomenal levels of overspending on the building of the new National Children’s Hospital. You don’t have to be much of a cynic to suspect that the government parties were delighted to kick RTÉ around the place for the last couple of weeks of the Dáil term in order to distract from their own failures.

An observation made by quite a few commentators was that there can be no justification for the superstar salaries paid to the likes of Ryan Tubridy in a market the size of Ireland’s. I’ve no idea why this self-evident truth is only now dawning on some people. For instance, if Joe Duffy had his pay cut from €300,000 a year down to €100,000 then what would he do? He might quit to get a job in UK radio, but he’d be doing the graveyard shift on Radio Norwich, and good luck to him. Ryan Tubridy seems to feel genuinely hard done by in the coverage of the story, and even though the millions he’s earned over the last decade should help to soothe the bruises, I can see where he’s coming from. So many people in so many sectors are overpaid that he’s probably feeling victimised for being singled out.

We come back again to that phrase ‘a market the size of Ireland’, and when it comes to excessive remuneration the rot starts at the top. We have an overpaid President, whose salary is completely disproportionate to the population he represents. Ireland has less than twice the population of Greater Manchester, but we seem to keep on benchmarking roles against the entire UK. Infamously, John Delaney as Chief Executive Officer of the FAI used to earn about double what was on offer to the head of the English FA, but multiple governments here kept shovelling money at the FAI despite the red flags.

So, I’m all for the concept of matching salaries to the nation-sized workload involved, but the reality is that we’re
only to get a few sacrificial high profile offerings from RTÉ sent to the guillotine, and all the other gravy trains in the State and semi-State sectors will keep on rolling unhindered. There are obvious areas where the HSE could make changes to do a better job with fewer staff, but let’s not hold our collective breath while we’re waiting. Our politicians are too busy practising their fake outrage for the TV cameras.

FMD SCANNING

Somebody recently tried to give me some well-meaning advice regarding my feelings towards falsified medicines directive (FMD) scanning. They suggested that I move past anger and hasten on the path to acceptance. Although I’m a bit reluctant to assign the stages of something as serious as grief to my experience with the FMD circus, I’ll run with it for now. I had to google the list, and the results vary a bit, but it goes roughly along the lines of Disbelief, Denial, Guilt, Anger, Depression, Working Through, and Acceptance. So in my case when it comes to processing the stages of FMD it goes something like:

Disbelief: “Surely there’s no way this nonsense will ever become a reality when every practising pharmacist is pointing out that it’s a bad idea.”

Denial: “OK, so the idiot politicians in the EU voted for this crap, but maybe there’s a loophole at national level.”

Guilt: “Nope… nothing to feel guilty about, except maybe daydreaming about telling corrupt and stupid politicians what I really think about them. Actually, I’ve no guilt about that.”

Anger: “Hell, yes, I’m angry. When irresponsible decisions made by unaccountable people mess with my working life then Anger is a perfectly reasonable response.”

Depression: “Nope, still at Anger.”

Working Through: “Of course I’m working through. That’s what pharmacists do – we work through everything – cold, heat, red tape, supply chain failures, Covid-19, and now, FMD scanning.”

Acceptance: “I’ll grudgingly go with Working Through, but screw Acceptance.” Looks like Anger is going to hang around a little longer.

OKI DOKIE

There was a time 30 years ago when people used to dream of the ‘paperless office’. The logic was that computerisation would remove the need for much of our paper- based work. Sadly, computers also made it much easier to print off reams and reams of paper so ‘paperless’ remains a dream. One ever-constant presence in our dispensaries, despite every advance in technology in the last three decades, is the OKI Microline printer for PCRS claim forms. It sounds like a 1970s Massey Ferguson on a cold morning, and is much unloved, but it just keeps on rolling out the blue forms. Sure, it jams every so often, but a bit of poking out of the shredding paper, along with some swearing, usually sorts the problem. By contrast, newer, flashier, pricier printers can whirr along almost silently, but when they go wrong they turn out to be a lot more fragile. The days of the OKI are numbered, but we might just miss it when it’s gone.

Fintan Moore graduated as a pharmacist in 1990 from TCD and currently runs a pharmacy in Clondalkin. His email address is: greenparkpharmacy @gmail.com.

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