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‘Difficult to see’ how strike action can be avoided – public health doctors

The public health committee of the IMO has released a statement to mark the fact that today was the scheduled as the first day of planned strike action in their campaign for the extension of consultant contracts and increased resources for public health.  

The three days of strike action were scheduled for today and 20/21 January.  A week ago, the committee took the decision to postpone the strike action, in light of the worsening Covid-19 crisis facing the country.  The matter is due to be reviewed at the end of January.

 Speaking today Dr Ina Kelly, Chair of the IMO public health committee, said: “The Government’s handling of this dispute is shocking and shows an indifference to addressing the danger of such an understrength public health medicine service.”

 “We now have an overwhelming mandate from our members for strike action but given the rapid escalation of Covid-19 cases we have deferred that action for the moment. We are highly committed to protecting the health of our communities and much of our work every day now is to limit the size and impact of Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and hospitals. Unfortunately, our commitment is not matched by the Government who continue to ignore the need to have a consultant-led public health medicine workforce.”

 “Their indifference is hugely damaging to the morale of the public health doctors manning the front line in this fight against Covid-19.    It is all the more galling given that we were in talks on these issues from January 2019 to January 2020 when much progress was made. Engagement ceased a year ago and nothing has been progressed since, despite the fact that we did everything that was asked of us and more, with too few resources.”

 “Government must recognise that it is now beyond time to finally recognise public health specialists as consultants. Regrettably, we have come to the conclusion that Government will continue to ignore public health medicine and we fear for the very future of the specialty.

 “We have had enough of the meaningless words of thanks for our hard work.  We demand commitments to the reforms that will safeguard our specialty and acknowledge our importance.  Given the inaction by Government it is difficult to see how strike action can be avoided.”

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