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The Irish Medical Organisation held a press briefing last night Leah Farrell via

Doctors to vote on taking industrial action over pay for consultants

“This vote emphasises the frustration and anger that consultants and NCHDs face.”

Updated 6.30pm

THE IRISH MEDICAL Organisation (IMO) has voted in favour of organising a ballot of its consultant and non-consultant hospital doctor (NCHD) members to undertake industrial action in support of consultant pay equality. 

The decision to hold a ballot was unanimously supported by a national meeting of IMO consultants and NCHD members yesterday evening.

This decision will escalate the IMO’s #FightForFairness campaign to bring pressure to bear on the government to seriously address what they claim is a consultant recruitment and retention crisis.

The vote allows the IMO to undertake a ballot of its consultant and NCHD members in the coming weeks, to seek approval for measures up to and including industrial action in pursuit of their claims.

The IMO is calling for: 

  • An immediate end to the pay inequality faced by consultants, which is based solely on when they were appointed. 
  • An immediate increase in the number of consultants employed in Ireland’s health system, in line with recommended ratios. 

“This vote emphasises the frustration and anger that consultants and NCHDs face regarding the state of the health service in 2019,” Dr Clive Kilgallen, chairperson of the IMO consultants’ committee, said. 

Doctors never want to undertake industrial action, but this government’s lack of engagement leaves us with no option.
Our health service has been crippled by this government’s appalling policy decisions, leaving patients suffering in badly understaffed and under-resourced hospitals. We need meaningful reform now.

Dr Matthew Sadlier, a member of the IMO consultants’ committee and former president of the IMO, claimed the crisis is “a direct result of the decision by the government in 2012 to enforce a pay disparity of over 30% among consultants based solely on when they were appointed”.

“The IMO has spend years warning the government that this would have significant consequences, but regrettably it has not listened,” Sadlier said. 

In a statement to, the HSE said: “Any decision by the IMO to initiate a ballot for the taking of industrial action by its members at this time is disappointing. 

“The HSE, together with the Department of Health and Public Expenditure and Reform, met with the IMO in recent times to discuss matters related to the Health Reform programme, Sláintecare and the De Buitléar report.”

The HSE said it will “remain available and committed to ongoing dialogue in this regard and would ask the IMO to re-engage with this process”. 

As of June 2019, there were 3,131 consultants and 6,478 NCHDs employed by the HSE. 

Hospital consultants have never taken strike action in Ireland. 

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said that Minister Harris “is obviously disappointed with the IMO’s decision to ballot its members”. 

Any industrial action by consultants and non-consultant hospital doctors would have a very negative impact on the delivery of health services.  This would also potentially be timed to coincide with very busy times in our hospitals. 

They also said that the department recently met with the IMO as part of consultation with stakeholders around the health reform agenda.

“The Minister would urge the IMO to consider their position and to continue to engage in this process.  They are a key group to the delivery of health reform and Slaintecare offers a significant opportunity to bring about real change.”

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