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'Enough is enough': 94% of IMO consultants and doctors vote for industrial action

The IMO said its key demand is an end to the “unjustifiable pay inequality” faced by consultants.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/lenetstan

CONSULTANT AND NON-CONSULTANT hospital doctors who are members of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have voted in favour of industrial action.

This is the first time that consultants and NCHDs have voted together for industrial action, which is likely to take place early in the new year.

The final vote in the ballot was 94% in favour of industrial action with 6% opposed.

The IMO’s key demand is an end to the “unjustifiable pay inequality faced by consultants which is based solely on when they were appointed and is leading to us being unable to recruit consultants to our health services”, a statement issued this evening said.

Dr Matthew Sadlier, former President of the IMO and a member of its Consultants’ Committee, said every option other than industrial action has been exhausted. 

“This pay issue is the single biggest obstacle to the functioning of our health services and providing care to our patients.

The message from doctors is clear: enough is enough. We do not want to strike but we cannot stand by any longer and watch as our health service is hollowed out and doctors are left to pick up the pieces yet again.

Sadlier noted that the vote is “an unprecedented step but also an unprecedented situation”, adding that there are “unacceptable” trolley numbers and waiting lists, and 540 empty consultant posts nationwide.

‘Nobody wants to see hospitals close’

Dr Anthony O’Connor, a member of the IMO Consultants’ Committee, stated that patient welfare is still doctors’ main priority.

As such we will not take industrial action over the Christmas and New Year period when our inadequate health service will be buckling under the winter strain with too few doctors to treat patients.

O’Connor said the IMO wants the government “to come to the table and engage with us so this action does not have to proceed and patients can be confident that the crisis in our health service is being addressed”.

“Nobody wants to see hospitals close, but this is what will happen if the government continues to sit on its hands and turn a blind eye to this devastating crisis,” he added.

Last month the Department of Health and the HSE said they remained committed to “ongoing dialogue” with the IMO in a bid to avoid industrial action.  

A department spokesperson said at the time that any industrial action by consultants and NCHDs “would have a very negative impact on the delivery of health services”.

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“This would also potentially be timed to coincide with very busy times in our hospitals,” they added.  

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Órla Ryan

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