Sunday 22 April 2018

Junior medics refuse ballot on work hours

Eilish O'Regan and Harry Walsh

JUNIOR doctors have refused to put proposals aimed at ending their dangerous working hours to a ballot, saying they do not provide enough of the guarantees that trainees need.

The junior doctor committee in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) met yesterday to consider the proposals from the HSE, but will seek more clarification today.

The proposals were put forward at the Labour Relations Commission hearing and give a timetable for the ending of shifts of more than 24 hours and the full implementation of the 48-hour week.

A spokesman for the IMO said the committee would meet again on Thursday.

The doctors were due to hold a national strike tomorrow but this was suspended.

The IMO said it could not yet put the proposals to a ballot and needed more clarity on how implementation of shorter hours would materialise.

Meanwhile, a consultant at Letterkenny General Hospital has claimed that a 48-hour working week for junior doctors would be near impossible to operate at the local hospital.

Peter O'Rourke, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, said because of the relatively small number of junior doctors in the hospital there would not be sufficient cover if they were to work only 48 hours per week.

He claimed that surgeons in training were happy to work longer hours, as they realised it was necessary in order to develop the skills they needed.

"Junior doctors really only want to work 9-5, Monday to Friday, when their consultant is available and work is also in effect training," he said.

"Shift work would mean that junior doctors rarely work with their consultant, and training suffers."

Irish Independent

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