Tuesday 12 December 2017

Junior doctors accept proposals to reduce working hours

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

Non-consultant hospital doctors belonging to the Irish Medical Organisation have voted to accept proposals which will reduce their working hours.

Some 76 per cent of members voted to accept the proposals, which will see doctors working no more than an average of 48 hours a week by December 2014.

In September, junior doctors went on strike because they were working up to 100 hours a week and continuous shifts of up to 36 hours.

A key element of the proposed deal is the imposition of financial sanctions on hospitals which fail to comply with new rosters which limit their shifts to no more than 24 hours.

IMO Director of Industrial Relations Steve Tweed told RTE's Morning Ireland that doctors are satisfied with the proposals, since any hospitals who do not comply will be held accountable.

“The key change is that the accountability is built into the agreement and the sanctions are built into the agreement.”

The national director of acute hospitals Ian Carter will withhold an annual sum of €15m from the allocation to public hospitals from which the penalty could be taken.

“It’s €15million coming out of the acute hospitals’ budgets, and the money is withheld upfront.”

“We hope [the money] isn’t lost… the idea is to get compliance.”

“If you talk to our doctors, I’ve sat at meetings where doctors have said they’re… working up to 108 hours per week. That’s going to end.”

He said the agreement will mean a reduction in pay for doctors, but they’re satisfied that they will now have a good work/life balance in return.

“If you’re dealing with a doctor whose been on his or her feet for 36 hours, mistakes can be made.”

Mr Tweed added: “It’s been made very clear that if there’s a failure on this (agreement), there’ll be industrial action.”

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