Public Health

Public health doctors vote in favour of industrial action in row over lack of consultant status

The IMO says the issue involves only 60 public health doctors.

PUBLIC HEALTH DOCTORS at the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a row over consultant contracts.

Public health specialists, whose role is to investigate and control diseases such as Covid-19, currently earn less than consultants.

The IMO has previously said the issue involves only 60 public health doctors and they have been pushing that they be recognised as consultants.

The union said this is in line with similarly qualified doctors in other countries and has also been recommended by a number of reports.

Last month the IMO said its public health doctors were voting on industrial action and this evening the the IMO said the vote was passed. 

In a statement the union said 94% of public health members had voted in favour of industrial action and that the IMO will meet on Monday to determine the timing and scope of industrial action.

It will then advise the HSE and Department of Health so that engagement can take place on emergency cover during industrial action.  

The organisation said it was “deeply regretful that Specialists in Public Health Medicine were being forced to take industrial action but the absence of any proposals from the Department of Health since the ballot was announced was indicative of the Department’s lack of respect for the medical workforce and its lack of urgency on Public Health Medicine even during a pandemic.”

Dr. Ina Kelly, Chair of the IMO Public Health Committee, said: “This is a fight for the future of Public Health Medicine in Ireland. The refusal to follow international best practice and recognise consultant status and provide consultant contracts for suitably qualified Specialists in Public Health Medicine and the inadequate staff and resources for Public Health Medicine can no longer be tolerated.  

“We will take industrial action in order to save Public Health Medicine in this country and to help make it fit-for-purpose,” she added. 

“Doctors fully recognise their ethical responsibilities to patients and are very angry that Government has effectively forced us to take industrial action.  Government must recognise that it too has an ethical responsibility to provide a comprehensive, safe, effective and sustainable Public Health Medicine service to the Irish people.”  

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