Irish Medical Organisation

IMO launches major campaign to force reduction in dangerously long working hours for NCHDs

  • “24 No More” campaign highlights routine abuse of NCHDs by Irish Health Services
  • IMO to hold ballot on industrial action during August
  • Taxpayer facing substantial fines from EU over lack of progress by Government on reducing working hours

Monday 15 July 2013 The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has launched a major campaign to highlight “dangerously-long” working hours which Non Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) are routinely forced to work in Ireland.

The IMO has also announced that as part of this campaign it will ballot NCHD members in August to step up the campaign to include taking industrial action.

The new campaign is branded 24 NO MORE and seeks to highlight how NCHDs are regularly forced to work shifts of more than 24 hours at a time. This is despite the fact that it is in breach of their contracts and in breach of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD).

Ireland is obliged to comply with EU law in regard to working hours and, due to the lack of progress by the HSE on reducing working hours for NCHDs, the Irish taxpayer is facing fines from the EU. The HSE has been aware of its obligations in this regard for four years.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, IMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mr Eric Young, said:

“Patients and NCHDs in Irish hospitals are in danger as a result of the Irish government forcing NCHDs to work shifts in excess of 24 hours which is in flagrant breach of the NCHD contract and bothIrish and European law”.

“It is unacceptable that patient and NCHD safety is being put at risk by these dangerously long working hours. The Government must stop breaking Irish and EU law and put an end to doctors working shifts in excess of 24 hours in Irish hospitals.”

Ireland and Greece are the only EU countries that have not fully implemented the EU Working Time Directive. This directive limits the working week of NCHDs to a maximum of 48 hours and prohibits the practice, currently widespread in Ireland, of NCHDs working 36-hour continuous shifts.

Mr. Young also confirmed that the IMO will be conducting a ballot of NCHD members in August to step up the campaign through various measures up to and including industrial action; “We can’t stand by and allow our next generation of doctors and consultants be forced to work hours that are explicitly outlawed by European Directives. It’s time to force the Government to honour its responsibilities and tackle this appalling situation for once and for all.”

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