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Minister: Doctors dispute will not be resolved at the picket line

The strike has impacted about 7,400 patients across 51 hospitals.

(YouTube: Video TheJournal.ie)

THE MINISTER OF HEALTH has told more than 3,000 hospital doctors that their dispute over working hours will not be resolved on the picket line.

Speaking in the Dáil earlier, James Reilly said he believes the issue will be resolved but not by “hurting those [doctors] want to give care to”.

Although he said today’s strike action affected “no more than 7,400 patients”, he added that was “7,400 more than it should have been”.

Earlier today, Eric Young, Assistant Director of Industrial Relations with the IMO, said the minister has “no choice but to listen” to the demands of NCHDs.

“I want to call on the Minister to actually intervene and to resolve this dispute,” he said, “it’s been going on too long, it’s been ten years in the making.”

Speaking at the picket line outside the Mater Hospital, Young also noted that the doctors are still calling for the directive to implemented even though it would result in less take home pay each week.

Reilly conceded that it is not safe to have hospital doctors working the hours that have been asked of them but he insisted there was progress being made.

He outlined the average working hours of doctors over the past four years, claiming they have reduced from an average of 60 hours to 52.4 hours per week.

Reilly said he was keen to see sanctions put in place that would impact “those who have failed” and not patients or doctors.

“I have faith in the new HSE management and I have faith in Barry O’Reilly, the new HR man,” he added, before telling NCHDs that they will have a “bright and clear future in this country in medicine”.

The IMO has welcomed the “exceptional” level of support its doctors received during the nationwide strike today.

“We are deeply touched that so many members of the public demonstrated their support for our members up and down the country; many brought food and hot drinks to the picket lines, other sounded their car horns as they passed and others simply came over to our members to express their support.  That support means an enormous amount to our members and we are deeply grateful,” they said in a statement.


Refreshments outside Tallaght hospital provided by nurses, phlebotomists, secretaries, canteen staff,  consultants and others. (Image: Antoine Murray)

RTÉ is reporting that the union will consider a HSE invitation to return to the Labour Relations Commission for talks.

The IMO’s NCHD committee will meet tomorrow to discuss options for the coming days and weeks.

It has said it will continue industrial action until the HSE agree to end shifts that last longer than 24 hours.

Reporting by Nicky Ryan

Video: Junior doctors explain the reasons behind today’s strike

Poll: Do you support the striking doctors?

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