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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

Hospital doctors vote overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action

Junior doctors in the IMO voted by 97 per cent to just 3 per cent in favour of industrial action over their chaotic working hours.

Members of the IMO count the results of the ballot today.
Members of the IMO count the results of the ballot today.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

HOSPITAL DOCTORS HAVE voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over what they say are “dangerously long” working hours.

A ballot of approximately 1,000 Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs, who are also known as junior doctors) found 97 per cent voted in favour of escalating their campaign, up to and including strike action.

A special meeting of  the Irish Medical Organisation’s NCHD committee will convene tomorrow to decide what form the industrial action will take.

The IMO has said it will cooperate fully with providing emergency cover during the action.

A member of the IMO said the ballot result was unambiguous. “Doctors are worried and angry,” said Eric Young, who pointed to the danger posed both to hospital patients and to doctors by the long working hours.

He criticised Minister for Health – and former head of the IMO – James Reilly, who today sympathised with junior doctors.

“When you read his comments in support of NCHDs, you’d think he was still president of the IMO,” said Young. “But he’s the Minister for Health now and he can fix this chaotic situation with the stroke of a pen but he won’t do it.”

Under the European Working Time Directive, employees can’t work more than 48 hours a week. However junior doctors regularly work up to twice as many hours per week – frequently on shifts lasting more than 24 hours each.

The IMO is calling for an immediate end of shifts of more than 24 hours and for the Department of Health to agree to comply with the European Working Time Directive by the end of next year.

Read: “Be prepared” – Doctors get ready to go on strike >

Column: Working conditions in hospitals are so bad that sometimes I get no sleep at all >

Read: Government wants another year to reduce junior doctors’ hours >

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