JUNIOR hospital doctors have agreed to postpone by a week their planned strike over excessive working hours in order to consider proposals from the HSE.
The industrial action was due to take place next Wednesday.
However the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has agreed to defer the strike as it examines a range of proposals on working hours which were put forward by the HSE. It will meet on Monday to discuss the proposals.
Junior doctors voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action as part of their campaign to reduce their hours which are frequently in breach of EU regulations.
They want an end to shifts of more than 24 hours and an agreement that a 48-hour working week will be in place by the end of next year.
The two sides met at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) where talks went on through much of the day.
The LRC asked that the doctors defer their planned industrial action for a week to consider the HSE proposals.
Following earlier talks at the LRC, representatives from both sides agreed to consider proposals for a roster verification process to determine whether rosters in place at local hospital level do not exceed a maximum 24-hour shift.
In order to minimise the impact of the strike on patients, the IMO had offered to make available to hospitals the same number of medics as are currently rostered on weekends plus one additional non-consultant hospital doctor. They had also given a commitment that oncology and dialysis services would not be affected by the action.
By Breda Heffernan