It announced last night it has begun writing to a number of pharmacists and warned them it will seek an injunction in the courts if its policies are ignored from May 1.
The HSE’s assistant national director Pat O’Dowd said pharmacists are contractually obliged to work with the scheme unless they have given three months’ notice of their intention to opt out.
“We have previously contacted every pharmacist seeking assurance that they will act in a professional manner and adhere to their contractual obligations, but we have not received an adequate response to date.
“In the absence of the necessary assurance from pharmacists, the HSE will take whatever measures it considers necessary in order to ensure that patient safety is not compromised,” he said.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) reacted angrily to the move.
However, IPU president Michael Guckian said its 1,850 members would not be intimidated.
“It is incredible that HSE management is focusing on trying to intimidate individual pharmacists with legal proceedings rather than trying to find a resolution to the issue.
“This has gone far enough, the HSE must cease its confrontational approach, honour pharmacists’ existing contract and sit down and discuss the situation before there is a real crisis,” he said.
The IPU said the HSE could not reduce the payments made to pharmacists without serious repercussions to its members’ ability to remain profitable.