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Much to discuss at IMO AGM as frustration mounts

By Paul Mulholland - 17th May 2022

In this issue of the Medical Independent, we preview the IMO AGM. The meeting will be held in the Aviva Stadium on 28 May. It marks the first time since 2019 the AGM will be a fully face-to-face event since 2019 (the 2020 and 2021 events took place virtually as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic). 

Covid-19 has taken an enormous toll on the medical profession. But many of the issues that doctors have written about in our preview coverage pre-date the pandemic. For instance, the failure of hospitals to comply with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) had already been of concern to the IMO well before Covid. 

In his article, Chair of the Organisation’s NCHD committee Dr John Cannon writes that the decision for NCHDs to ballot is a message to the Government and the HSE that the group will not accept the current status quo. 

“We want to engage in meaningful negotiations around contract breaches, contract reform and new structures that value NCHDs, and emphasise a healthy work/life balance,” according to Dr Cannon. 

“The Government and the HSE should be in no doubt as to the level of anger, frustration and indeed despair amongst NCHDs, and we are calling on them to use this opportunity to make a difference and to ensure we have even a chance of keeping Irish trainees in the system.” 

Chair of the IMO consultant committee and incoming President Dr Clive Kilgallen argues that the medical profession have been let down by successive Governments and highlights the “overwhelmingly negative response” to the draft consultant contract. 

The fact that negotiations have stalled due to the lack of an independent Chair does not auger well for those who hope such concerns can be addressed in a timely fashion. 

A new contract has relevance for public health doctors, who last year were finally granted consultant status. The specialty fought hard for this designation for years. While the agreement is a landmark achievement, Chair of the IMO public health committee Dr Anne Dee writes that it should not be seen as an end point. 

She says even when the agreement is implemented, public health doctors will still have to advocate for additional resources. 

“We must ensure that the specialty never gets left behind again and that it will become a sought-after specialty for our NCHDs, who will be the future of our public health service,” according to Dr Dee. 

Community medicine has also been seeking greater recognition. Chair of community health with the IMO Dr Ann Hogan writes that she hopes essential work undertaken by the group during Covid-19 will help this effort. However, Dr Hogan expresses her disappointment about the continued inequitable treatment of area medical officers, which may ultimately have to be resolved at the Labour Court. 

In his article, Chair of the IMO GP committee Dr Denis McCauley outlines the progress made in general practice over the past two years, despite the pandemic, such as the final FEMPI reversals. However, Dr McCauley also points out how GPs face numerous challenges, in terms of capacity, locum cover, and out-of-hours. 

So, all in all, there will be a lot for doctors to discuss at the AGM. And they will hope that solutions to these problems will be addressed sooner rather than later.

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