HOPES of a breakthrough in the junior doctors’ dispute emerged after the Health Service Executive (HSE) said it would consider financial sanctions for hospitals which force medics to work shifts of more than 24 hours.
The offer comes after about 6,000-7,000 patients had their operations and outpatient appointments cancelled across the country’s hospitals as junior doctors took to the picket line.
Although the scale of cancellations was lower than the original estimate of nearly 15,000, it has created a huge backlog of delayed appointments for patients.
The exhausted doctors walked off wards and pounded the pavements outside hospitals all day, warning they may escalate their action further if the HSE continues to force them to work shifts of more than 24 hours and fails to introduce a 48-hour week by the end of next year.
However, late tonight the HSE wrote to the IMO saying for the first time that it will consider imposing the financial sanctions on hospitals, which was a key demand by junior doctors.
The junior doctor committee of the IMO will meet early on Wednesday morning and there are strong signs they will return to the Labour Relations Commission for more talks.
By Eilish O’Regan, Health Correspondent