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Dublin: 20 °C Sunday 25 August, 2019
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IMO to discuss crisis with health officials

IMO is still balloting junior doctors on industrial action today.

Image: Doctors holding a chart via Shutterstock

THE IRISH MEDICAL Organisation (IMO) said they will meet with the Department of Health  in the next few weeks in an effort to resolve working conditions for junior doctors.

The IMO will, however, continue to ballot junior doctors today on industrial action to try and force the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish government to reduce “dangerously long” working hours for its members.

Junior doctors are expected to vote in favour of industrial action dude to a lack of progress made on the implementation of a European Working Time  Directive (EWTD) and other working conditions.

Ballot papers were today sent out to 2,000 non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) for support of  an action to reduce long working hours. The results of the ballot will not be known until September.

Eric Young,  Assistant Director of Industrial Relations with the IMO, said working unsafe shifts are  a blatant breach of employment contracts negotiated by the IMO with the HSE.  ”We are at a crisis point in the future of the Irish health service. This circle of illegal and dangerous working hours has to be broken,” he told TheJournal.ie.

It is not acceptable that the HSE continues to blatantly breach the law of the land and to think that they can do so with impunity. The HSE and the Irish government have talked for years about fixing this appalling situation but it is clear that they will only do it if they are forced to.

It is expected that any strike action will not affect “emergency services” and that only “elective” and “clinical” service would be affected, which may have short-term implications

Ireland is obliged to comply with EU law in regard to working hours. Due to the lack of progress by the HSE on reducing working hours for NCHDs, the Irish taxpayer is facing fines from the EU.

Ireland and Greece are the only EU countries that have not fully implemented the EWTD. This directive limits the working week of NCHDs to a maximum of 48 hours and prohibits the practice. There are over 4,800 NCHDs in the health service.

Read: Junior doctors expected top vote in favour of industrial action >

Read: Doctors to be balloted on industrial action over “dangerous” working hours >

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