IMO Issues Ballots for Industrial Action
- Ballots for industrial action will issue today to Consultants and NCHDs
- Ballot will conclude on Tuesday, December 17th
- Government is putting patient lives at risk
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) will today issue ballots to Consultant and Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor (NCHD) members seeking a mandate from members for industrial action, up to and including withdrawal of services. This comes after the Government’s continual failure to meaningfully engage on measures to address the recruitment and retention crisis among the medical profession. The ballot will conclude on Tuesday, December 17th. The ballot follows an IMO National Meeting last month in Dublin, at which the IMO Council’s vote in favour of organising a ballot was unanimously supported by Consultant and NCHD members.
The IMO’s key demands are:
- An immediate increase in the number of Consultants employed in our health system to ensure that patients get the timely specialist care that they need
- An immediate end to the unjustifiable pay inequality faced by Consultants which is based solely on when they were appointed
Dr. Matthew Sadlier, former President of the IMO and a member of its Consultants’ Committee, said:
“Doctors in Ireland are committed to providing the best care possible for patients, but we are left with no choice but to ballot for industrial action by a Government that still refuses to address the unprecedented Consultant recruitment crisis.
We have already lost one generation of doctors to emigration and we cannot let that happen again. “It is a basic principle that equal work should mean equal pay, and the fact is that Consultants have been unfairly targeted by a Government that does not value patient welfare. This unjustifiable pay disparity has led to an unprecedented crisis in a health service with unsafe waiting times and too few doctors to meet patient demand. We are at breaking point.
“With the levels of frustration and low morale amongst doctors and the growing concern for the safety of our patients we expect to receive a strong mandate for action. Doctors do not want to take industrial action but at this stage there is no other option and the Government must get serious about the problem. Talk of reform is a smoke screen for the crisis that is happening now. In the event of continued inaction by the Government we will engage in an escalating campaign of industrial action, the timing and nature of which will be decided by our NCHD and Consultant Committees.
Dr. Anthony O’Connor, a member of the IMO Consultants’ Committee, said:
“If the status quo is maintained, hospitals around the country will be forced to once again ration patient care, due to a lack of doctors. The cost of the Government’s repeated failure to seriously engage on this issue is borne by the hundreds of thousands of patients currently on hospital waiting lists. Alarmingly, we have recently seen the second highest level of patients on trolleys ever, all this before the winter pressure really kicks in.
“The Government says that it wants health service reform, and we are not afraid of reform, but the IMO cannot enter into negotiations on these matters until the recruitment crisis is addressed. “We already have the lowest number of specialists per capita in the EU. Our chronic shortage of doctors, especially specialists, means that patients are denied the care that they need when they need it. It also means that we do not have the specialists in place to train more junior colleagues and prepare them to take up specialist posts.
We have not taken this decision lightly and we remain ready for meaningful engagement but, regrettably, the Government’s casual indifference has left us with no choice.”
Dr. Clive Kilgallen, Chairman of the IMO Consultants’ Committee, said:
“It is a grim indictment of our health service that we have been forced into this action. However, we cannot continue like this with an environment of normalised crisis. We urgently need more doctors for better care. This government is putting patients at risk every day, waiting lists are spiralling out of control and the health outcomes of our patients will inevitably get worse. Doctors are part of the solution not the problem and we need Government to come to the table with serious proposals to enable our health service to recruit more doctors.”