Seanad debates

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill 2019: Committee Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Gerald NashGerald Nash (Labour) | Oireachtas source

In fact, I have some proximity to pharmaceutical assistants myself. Some people say the Seanad is not representative. I find that bizarre given the testimony from Senator Byrne. It seems we all have relationships with pharmaceutical assistants and we are only too well aware of the important work they do in our community.

There has been extraordinary frustration among members of the Registered Pharmaceutical Assistants Association in recent years since this issue first came to light. I took a keen interest in it from day one. I thank the Minister for his pragmatism and the perspective that he articulated today.

The amendment is tightly drawn but if we can secure the same outcome with improvements to an amendment on Report Stage, I know Senator Bacik, myself, as a co-sponsor of the amendment, and many others would be happy to work to try to achieve the objective.

We know the strain our acute medical services are under. We know too that it has been the ambition of successive Governments to ensure pharmacists and the pharmacy sector can contribute more to community-based interventions and primary care interventions in terms of wellness and well-being and the general health of our population. To remove a cohort of highly professional qualified and experienced individuals from this sector would have been disastrous for healthcare in this country.

Senator Reilly is right. We have a long history of grandfather clauses in professional titles, including in architecture, for example. In a previous life I worked with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland before I came to these Houses. We have a tradition and history of doing that. That is the pragmatic thing to do. I thank the Minister. I look forward to working with him on Report Stage. We will ensure the Minister delivers on his commitment - I know that he will. We want to work with him in the interests of the pharmaceutical assistants and all who depend on pharmacies throughout the country, which is everyone.


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