Public health doctors who are on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic in managing Covid-19 infections and outbreaks are to ballot for industrial action on November 16.
The decision was made by the doctors who are members of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).
The ballot comes after a long running campaign by public health doctors for the status of a hospital consultant and higher pay.
Public health workers are employed by the HSE and are key to managing outbreaks and preventing the spread of the virus.
Last week the IMO supported a move by 60 public health specialists to ballot to allow industrial action up to and including strike if the long promised grade of consultant is not awarded.
Public health doctors have previously warned they will ballot members on the issue if no progress is made.
The IMO said Ireland is an outlier in that it does not employ these doctors as consultants despite the fact that they are trained to work at consultant level and are on the Medical Council register as specialists like all other consultant colleagues.
The President of the IMO, Dr. Padraig McGarry said while only 60 public health doctors were involved in this issue, the entire 6,000 strong membership of the organisation supported their campaign; “In the midst of a global pandemic the Government is disrespecting our public health leaders and discouraging the next generation from working here even while other countries are trying to recruit them.
“This Government praises public health doctors out of one side of their mouths while dismissing their just demand for consultant contract out of the other. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role which our public health colleagues play in our health service. Their demand for a consultant contract is just and urgent and all doctors support them in their campaign to secure it.”