Irish Medical Organisation

Press Release - IMO takes “24 No More” campaign to EU Commission

  • EU Commission meeting IMO on 12 September as part of investigation into illegal and dangerous working hours of Irish NCHDs
  • Latest stage of “24 No More” campaign to force Irish Government and HSE to act
  • Government inaction putting patients and NCHDs at risk
  • Government flying kites about potential budget cuts but continuing to expose taxpayers to risk of huge fines for non-compliance with EU directive

Thursday 15th August 2013: The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is to meet with the EU Commission on 12 September 2013 to discuss the Irish Government and HSE’s ongoing failure to comply with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) in the Irish health system.

Previously the IMO wrote to the EU Commission as part of its “24 No More” campaign to achieve EWTD Compliance. The Commission has confirmed to the IMO that it will investigate the complaints made by the IMO and will meet with the organisation to discuss the complaints in detail.
At present Ireland and Greece are the only EU countries that have not fully implemented the EWTD.
Under the directive, Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) are meant to be prevented from working in excess of 48 hours for each seven day period, yet the IMO has demonstrated that on average Irish NCHDs are working over 63 hours per week and some are working for up to 100 hours in a week. NCHDs are routinely working 36-hour continuous shifts without adequate rest.

Last week the IMO began balloting NCHDs on industrial action to force the HSE and Irish Government to end dangerously long working hours that put patients and doctors at risk. The result of the ballot will be known on 2 September 2013.

IMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mr Eric Young, said: “We welcome the fact that the EU Commission is prepared to investigate the Irish Government and the HSE’s ongoing failure to protect patients and provide for safe working hours for doctors.

It beggars belief that the Government is flying kites about potential Budget cuts while continuing to expose taxpayers to the risk of huge fines – perhaps in the order of hundreds of millions of euros - for non-compliance with the EU Working Time Directive.

The exodus of doctors from the Irish health service to safer conditions in North America, Australia and New Zealand is a vivid illustration of the malaise that prevails in a broken system which does not treat NCHDs properly nor value the service they provide.”

Mr Young also said: “While the IMO has consistently engaged with the HSE to make adequate arrangements to comply with the EWTD, it is clear that the HSE will only change if it is forced to.
We will encourage the EU Commission to do all in its power to force the changes that Irish patients and NCHDs deserve.

IMO members want to avoid the need for industrial action that would impact on patients and we will welcome any help we can get from the Commission to achieve this.”


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