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EC Commission to investigate junior doctors' long working hours

The IMO says it plans to outline “the HSE’s ongoing failure to comply with the European Working Time Directive” when it meets the Commission.

Image: Doctor via Shutterstock

THE ORGANISATION THAT represents doctors is to meet with the EU Commission next month to discuss what they described as “illegal and dangerous working hours” by junior doctors.

The Commission said it will investigate the complaints and meet with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on September 12 to discuss its findings.

The IMO says it plans to outline “the Irish government and HSE’s ongoing failure to comply with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) in the Irish health system”.

It added that the inaction is putting patients and non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) at risk.

Under the directive, NCHDs are meant to be prevented from working in excess of 48 hours for each seven day period, yet Irish NCHDs are working over 63 hours per week and some are working for up to 100 hours in a week. NCHDs are routinely working 36-hour continuous shifts without adequate rest.

Last week, the IMO began balloting NCHDs on industrial action, result of which will be known on September 2.

IMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mr Eric Young, said doctors are leaving the country as they know they will be treated better elsewhere:

The exodus of doctors from the Irish health service to safer conditions in North America, Australia and New Zealand is a vivid illustration of the malaise that prevails in a broken system which does not treat NCHDs properly nor value the service they provide.

Young welcomes the investigation by the HSE and added “it is clear that the HSE will only change if it is forced to”.

Related: IMO to discuss crisis with health officials>

More: Junior doctors expected to vote in favour of industrial action>

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Amy Croffey

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