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'I'm sorry I can't wave a magic wand': IMO urged to return to talks ahead of strike

Junior doctors are planning industrial action for next week in a dispute over long working hours.

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Image: Tyler Olsen via Shutterstock

HEALTH MINISTER JAMES Reilly has urged the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to return to talks with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to avoid strike action planned by junior doctors for next Tuesday.

Non-consultant hospital doctors will undertake industrial action next week in protest over long working hours with talks aimed at averting the strike action breaking down.

The union is demanding an end to shifts for NCHDs that run in excess of 24 hours. Its members also want the HSE to bring in a plan aimed at achieving compliance with an EU directive on working hours.

Reilly said that it is “regrettable” that the IMO has no confidence in him or the HSE’s commitment to end long working hours but said that there has been improvements in recent years in the amount of hours worked in one shift by junior doctors.

He claimed that the number of NCHD’s working shifts longer than 24 hours has reduced to 34 per cent in recent months.

“I’m sorry I can’t wave a magic wand and fix it immediately,” he told Morning Ireland, adding that he understands “utterly the frustrations” of junior doctors.

He added: “I still appeal to them to come back to the LRC and not hurt patients in their frustration, because patients don’t deserve this.”

On the same programme, the assistant director of industrial relations at the IMO, Eric Young, said he did not foresee a resolution to the dispute before next week’s planned strike action.

He criticised the HSE for publishing its proposals for sanctions on hospitals (time in lieu that would be paid to an NCHD for any hours worked about the 24 hour shift limit) on its website without forwarding them to the IMO for consideration.

The document was published on the HSE website but not given to IMO members, Young said.

Read: HSE proposals are “too little, too late” – IMO

‘Cum spiro, spero’: Reilly hopes there won’t be an overrun in the health budget

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Hugh O'Connell

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