Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Statement on HSE Recruitment Freeze

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is shocked and appalled at HSE plans to implement a recruitment freeze among a wide range of healthcare staff including non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs), a decision which will inevitably impact negatively on patient care.

Speaking today, Dr Rachel McNamara, Chair of the IMO NCHD Committee, said: “This recruitment freeze flies in the face of safe staffing levels. It will add to the chaos in a system which already does not have enough doctors to deliver safe patient care, where many teams across the country are not fully staffed and where NCHDs are still working illegal and unsafe hours.

 “It is astounding that this decision could be made at this point in time. Even in the depths of austerity there was no recruitment freeze on medical professionals as it was recognised that delivery of services had to be prioritised. It is all the more ironic that swingeing cuts to staff and budgets, imposed during austerity, is what damaged the health service for over a decade and we are now repeating the same mistakes.”

 Dr John Cannon, President of the IMO, said: “NCHDs across all specialties are already working hours that are in excess of legal working hour legislation, and are burnt out working in a system that is completely unfit for purpose. It is little wonder that so many of our doctors simply choose to emigrate to systems that recognise their worth. 

 “The system requires more, not fewer doctors, just to meet service demand. The additional NCHDs that were recruited this year were the minimum required to deliver those services and the HSE acknowledged to the IMO that a further 800 posts were required so that working hours could be reduced in line with the NCHD Agreement reached between the HSE and the IMO in December 2022. They are now quite simply abandoning their own legal obligations as an employer.”

 The IMO is seeking urgent engagement with HSE on this dangerous decision and will be considering what actions need to be taken by NCHDs to ensure safe working hours and staffing levels.

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