Wednesday 18 October 2017

Ireland refered to European Court of Justice over doctors’ hours

Junior doctors have reached agreement on new shifts.
Junior doctors have reached agreement on new shifts.

THE European Commission is to refer Ireland’s continuing practice of forcing junior doctors to work gruelling hours to the EU's Court of Justice.

It follows a complaint that hospitals here are not complying with the EU Directive which limits their working week to 48 hours.

The HSE has admitted that some doctors can work 70 or even 100 hours a week and shifts of 36 hours or more.

It recently reached agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation, the union representing junior doctors, to impose a timetable on hospitals to comply with the limits and make the 48 hour week fully effective by the end of next year.

This agreement, worked out at the Labour Relations Commissin, was supported in a ballot of the doctors last week.

However, the  complaint to the EU Court of Justice will now pile even more pressure on hospitals to meet the deadline, even though they are under severe pressure due to lack of doctors in several departments,

Hospitals outside of Dublin are under the most strain..The complaint to the Commission said that Ireland is failing to ensure that in practice junior doctors work no more than 48 hours per week on average, including any overtime.

It said that junior doctors are regularly required to work an average of 70-75 hours per week, without adequate breaks for rest or sleep.

Eilish O’Regan

Health Correspondent

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