Irish Medical Organisation

Following a unilateral decision by the HSE to impose a recruitment freeze, including NCHD recruitment, on 13th October 2023 the IMO National NCHD Committee met to consider the implications for our members.

This action by the HSE has been met with a strong response from the IMO and its NCHD members and unless the recruitment freeze is lifted in January 2023 we will commence a ballot for industrial action, up to and including strike action.

The IMO position is that the recruitment freeze will breach the terms of the IMO NCHD Agreement which commenced implementation in January 2023. The core objective of that agreement, which averted a national NCHD strike, was to reduce working hours and provide rosters that allowed for adequate rest periods.

We have engaged with the HSE and have received no significant guarantees around the following issues. 

Specifically we sought a commitment from the HSE that:

  1. All maternity leave and sick leave will be covered by locums
  2. No NCHD will be requested to work, or rostered to work in excess of the terms of the NCHD Contract and Rostering Rules
  3. All Annual Leave and Study Leave will be granted in line with the terms of the Agreement and all sites are obligated to provide locums cover where necessary so that NCHDs can avail of their leave entitlements
  4. No NCHD will be requested to cover gaps in rotas or assigned additional on call shifts
  5. The terms of the Verification and Sanction process will enable sites to recruit NCHDs so as to enable compliance with legal working hours and rostering rules
  6. The HSE will produce a plan for the implementation of the additional 800 NCHD posts so as to allow the terms of the Agreement and legislative obligations be met


The IMO National NCHD Meeting endorsed the position to ballot for industrial action so that the hard won terms of the recent IMO NCHD Agreement are upheld by the employer.

While we hope that this reckless move by the HSE is rescinded in January 2023 we are prepared to take all action to protect the rights of our members.

We will be in touch again with you on this issue in the New Year but in the meantime it is critical that you report all contract breaches to

Key terms of IMO NCHD Agreement 2022 can be found here

Dr Rachel McNamara, NCHD Committee Chair explains the impact of the recruitment freeze here

Ms Niamh Sweeney, IMO Member Advisory Team explains how to report breaches here

We thank you for your continued support of the IMO and ensure that we will continue to fight for better and safer working conditions for NCHDs.

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