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Risk of hospital cancellations as junior doctors’ campaign over working conditions backed by senior colleagues

Junior doctors are threatening strike over ‘unsafe and illegal working hours’

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Patients are facing the risk of another round of hospital cancellations as junior doctors have been supported in their campaign for better working conditions by senior colleagues, including consultants.

Junior doctors are threatening strike over what they claim are "unsafe and illegal working hours” in hospitals.

The trainees were backed by consultants, GPs and public health doctors at the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) in Dublin.

They unanimously passed an emergency resolution in support of the trainees known as non-consultant hospital consultants (NCHDs). .

NCHDs are currently balloting on taking industrial action, up to and including strike action, in support of their campaign to end gruelling long shifts.

The ballot will close June 9.

Tens of thousands of hospital appointments were already cancelled in the last two weeks as medical scientists engaged in strike over pay.

In a sign of more health service unrest Dr John Cannon, Chairman of the NCHD Committee of the IMO said today: “We welcome the unanimous vote in favour of this important resolution.

"The current system is bad for doctors and unsafe for patients. We are driving more and more NCHDs abroad and there is no reason for them to come back. Current contract issues are a monumental act of self-harm by the HSE and the Government.”

Their campaign #standingUP4NCHDs is targeted at unsafe working hours for both doctors and patients.

The motion said: “This AGM, on behalf of all members, fully supports our NCHDs and their #standingUP4NCHDs campaign and ballot for industrial action.

"The unsafe and illegal working hours, huge financial burdens and levels of burnout and stress faced by NCHDs will no longer be tolerated. We call on Government and the HSE to recognise and seriously address the challenges and inequities faced by our colleagues who are the consultants, GPs, public and community health doctors of the future.”

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Dr Cannon warned that unless the HSE and Government seriously engage with the IMO, as the Trade Union for NCHDs to resolve these issues, there will be no alternative but to take industrial action.

"We as doctors want to treat and help patients but our current working conditions are actually unsafe for the very patients, we are trying to deliver care to. Taking industrial action is not an easy decision and we hope that it does not come to that, but it is entirely in the hands of the HSE and Government.

"We will not settle for more lip service or promises of some great future, we need action now. This dispute needs to be resolved and we are prepared to enter negotiations to make the health service a safer place for patients and doctors alike.”

They are calling for the systemic and persistent contract breaches around unsafe and illegal hours to be addressed.

They also want a transparent verification and payment systems for all hours worked.

The system should avoid repeated spells paying emergency tax and reduces the need for NCHDs to repeatedly provide information already held within the system

Other issues include guaranteed access to annual leave and study leave as well as the introduction of measures to address financial burden associated with training structures

Dr Cannon said: “NCHDs are united, resolute, and determined to get progress on these issues. We will not settle for more lip service or promises of some great future, we need action now. This dispute needs to be resolved and we are prepared to enter negotiations to make the health service a safer place for patients and doctors alike.”


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