Irish Medical Organisation

IMO responds with disbelief to commitments by Minister for Health to tackle NCHD Crisis

• “Hard not to be cynical given lack of action since Minister took office and when this “conversion” comes in same week as EU agree to investigate Irish Government for failure on this issue.”

• Preparations to continue to ballot NCHDs for ballot on possible industrial action next month #24nomore

Friday 26th July 2013. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has responded with disbelief to comments by the Minister for Health yesterday in which he said he was committed to tackling the crisis amongst NCHDs in Ireland.

Speaking today, Steve Tweed, IMO Director of Industrial Relations, said; “You have to be cynical when you see the lack of action by this Minister since he took office not to mind when you realise that his words followed hot on the heels of a stinging criticism of the Government on this issue by the European Commission.”

Tweed said that regardless of what the Minister said yesterday, he would have to be judged by his failure to date to do anything to address the issue.

“The IMO provided evidence to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in October 2011 and again earlier this year highlighting the illegal and dangerous working hours of Non Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs). The Minister did nothing.”

“The IMO raised the issue of doctors emigrating and not returning to Ireland in the NCHD Boarding Card campaign in November 2012 and also during the Haddington Road talks, which led to negotiations commencing at the start of July 2013. Is the Minister only becoming aware of the serious concerns now?”

“The “perversity” here is the Minster’s pretence that he actually cares about NCHD working hours and conditions. He is facing industrial action, up to and including strike action, from the IMO’s NCHD members, along with the EU Commission on the verge of instigating legal proceedings for the ongoing non compliance with the European Working Time Directive.”

Tweed continued, “The Minister is yet again attempting to play for time, but the patience of our NCHD members and that of the EU Commission has run out. The Minister has asked Brian MacCraith, president of Dublin City University, to bring together a group of NCHDs – interns, senior house officers, registrars and specialist registrars – to ask them how the situation could be addressed. Why is this cost and delay necessary?

The Minister has the Hanly Report from 2003, the Twomey Report from 2007, NCHD feedback through the IMO and the HSE’s own report … the information to address the issue is already with the Department of Health, it has just been ignored for a decade.”

The IMO campaign “24 No More – Enough is Enough” (#24NoMore) will not be halted by yet more false promises by Government. A ballot for industrial action commences on 8 August 2013. In the meantime the IMO will be working with the EU Commission to collate evidence to commence proceedings. A meeting with the Commission is currently being arranged.

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