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Doctors hail EC's decision over hours

DOCTORS have welcomed the European Commission's decision to haul Ireland before the European Court of Justice for making junior medics work long hours.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said that while the HSE "has always tried to sweep this issue under the carpet, it will now be forced to answer on it by the court".

Peter Power of the EU Office in Dublin confirmed the commission had lost patience with the Government and was now referring Ireland to the court.

The commission pointed out that many doctors were still working in excess of 80 hours without breaks or sleep, despite the EU Time Directive which limits the working week to 48 hours.


The IMO's Steve Tweed described the heel-dragging of the HSE and Department of Health on the issue as "a shameful failure".

He said the IMO welcomed the commission's decision "as we believe it will fundamentally alter of the attitude of the HSE on the matter".

In making the decision, the commission said it considered the current situation to be a serious infringement which endangered the health of doctors and patients.

It referred to the fact that while Irish law respected the directive, in practice hospitals were not applying the rules.

Mr Tweed said: "We retain a degree of scepticism about the willingness of the HSE to enforce every aspect of that agreement."