Saturday 21 October 2017

HSE agrees to recruit hundreds of junior doctors

Martin Frawley

HUNDREDS of extra junior doctors are to be recruited as additional funding is to be made available to hire them.

Over the weekend, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), which represents junior doctors or NCHDs (non-consultant hospital doctors), agreed to suspend its strike planned for Wednesday in order to consider proposals aimed to resolve its dispute with the HSE.

The IMO said that many doctors worked over 70 hours a week and some up to 100, while a few worked dangerously long shifts of over 24 hours.

The IMO said that successive Health Ministers, including James Reilly, had failed to implement the EU directive that limits the working week to 48 hours. Ireland was supposed to have implemented the directive for NCHDs three years ago and is facing EU fines if it continues to ignore the directive.

It is understood that under the settlement proposals worked out at the Labour Relations Commission, the HSE has finally agreed to a timescale to implement the maximum working week of 48 hours.

Critically, it is understood that part of the proposals includes the consent of Minister for Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to the funding of the recruitment of additional junior doctors to take up the slack once the maximum 48-hour week is in place. It is unclear how many NCHDs will be required, though it is likely to run into the hundreds over the next couple of years.

OVERTIME

However, the cost of recruitment can be offset by the reduction in overtime payments.

The HSE is currently recruiting NCHDs to fill around 150 vacant posts.

The NCHD committee of the IMO is to meet today to consider what it called the HSE's "significant" proposals, which will most likely be put out to ballot.

The NCHDs had previously voted 90pc in favour of industrial action.

A spokesperson for the HSE said it expected that any hospitals that cancelled appointments would now actively restore their appointments list.

Meanwhile, HSE figures show that last year NCHDs earned an average of €35,584 in overtime alone, equivalent to the average industrial wage.

A senior house officer who earns a basic of €38,839 to €54,746 earned an average of €31,605 in overtime last year.

A registrar on a basic of €50,578 to €60,305 was paid an average of €42,207 in overtime.

Irish Independent

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