Setback as HSE takes consultant roster row to Labour Court
THE three-week deadline for the introduction of new evening and weekend rosters for hospital consultants is now unlikely to be met.
The failure of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to sign up to the changes is set to delay the rosters that are aimed at improving how hospitals are run.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) will now refer the issue to the Labour Court, which will deliver a binding ruling under the Croke Park Agreement.
Commenting on the setback, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said: "I am very disappointed. It's incumbent on everybody to embrace the changed agenda, particularly those who are actually among the best-paid in the country, to understand what needs to be done.
"We worked out an agreement in the Labour Court that needs to be implemented without further delay.
"We need the changed practices to have a much more efficient hospital service, but we also need the money."
HSE Director of Human Resources Barry O'Brien said it wanted action on the issue from the consultants.
The HSE is now seeking the urgent intervention of the Labour Court to secure a binding agreement on the issue.
The deadline for the introduction of the new rosters is November 5.
The IMO said it had told the HSE it would ballot members on the rostering changes.
If the proposals were accepted, they would be implemented at hospital level.
However, the HSE had "shifted the goalposts" by imposing the November 5 deadline.
IMO Director of Industrial Relations Steve Tweed said: "Information was requested as to what plans were in place for November 5 but, astonishingly, the HSE could not provide any details. The HSE were not even in a position to state if preliminary plans had commenced at hospital level, as required under the Croke Park Agreement, in preparation for implementation should the proposals be accepted."
Mr Tweed said that by choosing to go down the road of confrontation unnecessarily, the HSE risks losing the goodwill of consultants and unravelling the progress that had been made to date.
It is difficult to understand, he added.