THE threat of a hospital strike by junior doctors has escalated further after they angrily accused the HSE of wrongly accusing them of demanding triple pay.
The doctors, who are members of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), have given notice of strike action in public hospitals next Tuesday over the failure to resolve the row over the long working hours.
The doctors want an end to shifts of more than 24 hours and the introduction of a 48-hour week at the end of next year.
But relations have soured even more after the IMO rejected a claim by Barry O'Brien, the head of human resources in the HSE, that they were looking for triple time for the hours they work beyond 24 hours in a single shift.
However, industrial relations officer Val Moran said this was incorrect. The doctors currently receive time and quarter pay for each hour they work in a single shift beyond 24 hours.
They are now asking that they also get time off in lieu for each of these hours. If that is not possible they should be paid on the double for each extra hour at the normal hourly rate.
This would impose a financial penalty on hospitals which fail to meet the 24 shift limit, they added.
"Where the HSE claims that lack of resources mean that the doctor can not get the time in lieu, he or she should be paid for the relevant hours (worked over 24 hours in a shift) at standard hourly rate," he added.
The HSE declined to elaborate on the row yesterday.