IMO Statement - Update on discussions between the IMO and the Government on a revised Public Service Agreement.
Tuesday 14th May 2013. The Director of Industrial Relations in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Steve Tweed, has provided the following update on discussions between the IMO and the Government on a revised Public Service Agreement.
• The IMO continues to engage in intensive discussions with the HSE and the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on key issues relating to the terms and conditions of our members. We hope in the coming weeks to secure an agreement that we will put to our members.
• Our objective in these discussions has been to protect, to the greatest degree possible, the terms and conditions of our members while being conscious of the very difficult financial situation facing the country. We have also been very conscious of the urgent need to make progress on the implementation of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) and tackling the overtime crisis in the NCHD sector (Non Consultant Hospital Doctors).
• It is important to state that no agreement has yet been reached on many of the critical issues. However progress has been made on some important matters.
• The Government has agreed that the current situation on overtime in the NCHD sector is unsustainable. Specifically we expect to secure a commitment that the Government will be compliant with the European Working Time Directive within 18 months (end 2014). The excessive hours being worked by NCHDs is a critical issue in the health services and poses serious risks to NCHDs themselves and their patients. Addressing this crisis is a key objective of the IMO.
• The Government has accepted our argument that significant savings in the payroll budget can be obtained by transferring certain tasks (such as phlebotomy) from NCHDs to Nursing Grades. Together with the Government and the INMO we will participate in an evaluation process to quantify the scale of savings which can be achieved through this process.
• We believe that the savings which will follow from the transfer of certain work may lead to an improved agreement on overtime.
• On the broader issue of pay, the IMO argued strongly to remove the threat of pay cuts for our members earning over €65,000 not least because of the very substantial cuts which our members have already endured. The silence of other Unions on this issue has clearly emboldened the Government to legislate if necessary to impose these cuts and in that context we do not expect to reach agreement on this issue.
It does appear that while these inequitable cuts will go through, their impact will be somewhat softened by the payment as normal of the increment due after 1st July 2013 and the restoration of pay grades for those under €100,000 within 18 months of the conclusion of the agreement.
• Significantly, on a key priority issue for the IMO, we have secured agreement that the Government will enter discussions with the IMO to examine the issue of retention and career paths for doctors within the Irish health system and, in particular, the recruitment and retention of consultants. This issue has been identified by our members as crucial for the future of the medical profession in Ireland.
Speaking today, Mr. Tweed said that the process over recent days confirmed that the IMO was right to walk out of the Croke Park II talks in late February; “we have had more engagement in the past week than we were able to get throughout the whole process of the Croke Park II talks and we’ve made important progress on some substantial issues.”