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Junior doctors at the launch of the 24 No More campaign. Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

"Be prepared" - Doctors get ready to go on strike

Doctors and the HSE met today to talk about contingency plans if doctors do strike from next month – but the doctors aren’t happy.

DOCTORS HAVE WARNED the HSE that it needs to prepare for junior doctors withdrawing their services from hospitals as part of a dispute about what they say are illegal working hours.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and the HSE met today to discuss the possible industrial action and talk about contingency plans if doctors do – as expected – go on strike next month, but doctors say the HSE had no concrete proposals to avert the action.

The IMO has begun to fight back against the long and chaotic working hours of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDS) and members were recently balloted on whether to take industrial action over the issue. The result is expected to be known on 2 September.

“We have been prepared to make every effort to resolve this issue but we cannot agree to further stalling tactics,” said Eric Young of the IMO. “After 10 years it is surely now time to address the problem once and for all. This is a problem for patients and doctors alike”.

No agreement was reached on contingency plans at today’s meeting, but the IMO said it will cooperate fully with providing emergency cover during any industrial action that takes place, and that it will give sufficient notice to the HSE to allow for contingency arrangements to be put in place.

The IMO’s 24 No More campaign is looking for an immediate end to shifts of more than 24 hours as well as a promise from the HSE to adhere to the European Working Time Directive – which governs how many hours doctors can safely work – by the end of next year.

“IT is clear that this is not a priority issue for the HSE,” said Young. “Doctors are in effect being treated worse than any other workers in the health services with these unacceptable dangerous working hours.”

Doctors deserve more respect and patients deserve a better service.

Both sides will meet again on Tuesday in a bid to deal with the looming industrial action.

Column: I am frustrated, I am committed, I am only human: I am your doctor >

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

Read: GPs have this stark warning for their former colleague James Reilly >

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