Irish Medical Organisation

NCHD - Living Out Allowance

Statement by IMO - 14 November 2016

Following disengagement from talks by Government, NCHDs confirm they will ballot for industrial action

Monday 14 November 2016.  The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has confirmed that it will proceed to ballot its NCHD (Non Consultant Hospital Doctors) members on taking industrial action in the ongoing dispute about the restoration of an agreed Living Out Allowance to NCHDs.  The move follows a breakdown in talks between the IMO and the Department of health and Children.  The IMO will also return to the High Court to have the matter heard.

In late October, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform agreed in the High Court to enter talks with the IMO on this matter.  Earlier today, the two Departments disengaged from those talks and effectively breached the agreement reached at the High Court.

Speaking today Dr John Duddy, President of the IMO said “It is just a further example of the lack of respect for doctors and ignoring the crisis we have in retaining doctors in Ireland.  It is typical of Government to reach agreements and breach them within a matter of weeks.  Doctors will have no choice now but to consider all avenues to have our issues resolved including industrial action.  No doctor wants to strike and indeed it would be with great reluctance that we would embark on such an action but in the face of a Government that behaves in such a manner we will have no choice.  We are in an era of growing waiting lists, insufficient beds and too few consultants yet the policy of this Minister is to make sure that we actively encourage our highly trained doctors to leave Ireland and work abroad. This Minister talks a lot about reform of the services and he is well aware of the need to keep doctors in Ireland yet he, and his colleagues in Government send out a very different message to doctors.”

Statement by IMO - 5 November 2016

Statement by IMO - 5 November 2016

Government pay policy is leading to insufficient numbers of doctors to adequately treat patients

Patients will suffer in the long run with increasing waiting lists, more overcrowding in Emergency Departments and not enough services provided by GPs

The Council of the Irish Medical Organisation met today and has unanimously supported Non Consultant Hospital Doctors in their ongoing and longstanding efforts to have their contracts honoured in terms of the unilateral withdrawal of a Living Out Allowance in 2012 and other issues around training.  While negotiations on these matters are due to commence next week IMO Council fully support their colleagues in taking industrial action, up to and including strike action, to resolve matters should the negotiations not yield an adequate response from Government. The HSE and Department of Health refused to negotiate on the issues over the past number of years and instead have forced doctors to resort to legal proceedings in the High Court and now the possibility of industrial action.

IMO Council have strongly criticised the Government and in particular the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for policies that are endangering our health services and patient safety with a health system that has too few consultants, increasing trends of emigration amongst our NCHDs, GP services at crisis point and inadequate public health planning.  The direct consequence to patients of such policies are increasing waiting times, too few hospital beds, cancellation of procedures, persistent overcrowding in our Emergency Departments and inadequate resources to provide care at GP level.

Speaking today the President of the Irish Medical Organisation Dr John Duddy said “The pay policy of this Government in relation to members of the medical profession has led directly to the inability of our health services to retain or recruit doctors.  We already have too few doctors in this country to deliver adequate services to patients yet Government have consistently ignored the fact that if you breach contracts and deliberately create a policy that disrespects and devalues doctors they will simply choose to work for countries that value them and allow them to do the work for which they have trained.   Doctors, like other members of the public services, were prepared to take cuts in the recession however the cuts applied to members of the medical profession and the consistent breaches of contracts were over and above those suffered by other public service employees.  With policies like this in place our health services will continue to roll from crisis to crisis and patients will suffer.  Doctors do not want to take industrial action but will be forced to do so by a Government that refuses to acknowledge or deal with the problem.”

Living Out Allowance Update - 27 October 2016

Court case on living out allowance starts tomorrow

As you are aware the IMO has been engaged in legal proceedings against the HSE and Department of Health in relation to the reinstatement of the NCHD Living Out Allowance which was unilaterally withdrawn from all new entrant NCHDs since 2012.  The case is before the High Court tomorrow, Tuesday 25th October and we will keep you updated in this regard.

It is extremely disappointing that the Department of Health and the HSE have refused to enter into discussions to resolve this matter and are forcing NCHDs to take matters to the Courts. The IMO wrote to The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD seeking to have the matters negotiated but to date we have received no response.  A copy of that letter can be found here

The lack of willingness by the Department and the HSE to discuss this and other important issues around the NCHD contract is indicative of the failure of the health service to address issues of concern to  NCHDs.

Over recent weeks we have had many TIME FOR CHANGE MEETINGS in hospitals around the country and there is a huge level of anger and frustration amongst NCHDS.  It is imperative that you attend your hospital TIME FOR CHANGE MEETING  and make your voice heard. 

Your National NCHD Committee will be meeting in the coming weeks to discuss plans for Industrial Action if the HSE and Department continue to ignore NCHDs.

Living Out Allowance Background

The payment of a Living Out Allowance to NCHDs is a contractual right under the NCHD Contract which formed part of a Settlement Agreement reached in the High Court in 2010 between the HSE and the IMO.  

This payment was unilaterally removed in 2012 from all new entrant NCHDs despite the fact that it remained in the signed contract between the employer and the NCHD.  The IMO and its NCHD members are disappointed that doctors are being forced by the State, for the third time, to take legal action to enforce a written contract.  Dr Paddy Hillery Chair of the NCHD Committee said that “it appears this Government do not want to deal fairly with doctors.  Our members core duty is to their patients and while we have endeavoured to explore all avenues to have this resolved we will now also have to consider industrial action up to and including strike action.  

As late as last week we wrote to the Minister for Health to enter talks to resolve the matter but we have received no response.  Doctors are demoralised with their working environments and it seems that this Government are happy to preside over the growing emigration of our highly trained doctors to countries that value them and honour legally binding contracts.”  

Selected Media Coverage


Dr. Paddy Hillery, Chairman of the IMO NCHD Committee took part in a number of media interviews discussing the case and threat of strike action.

Irish Times - 19th October

Newstalk Breakfast - 19th October

RTE Radio One - Today with Sean O'Rourke - 19th October

TV3 Pat Kenny Tonight - 19th October 2016

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