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Drogheda interns may ballot for industrial action

Interns at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, may ballot for industrial action due to what the IMO has described as an unwillingness of the hospital to engage on rostering issues.

Mr Paul Maier, Industrial Relations Officer at the IMO, said the union had contacted the hospital in August seeking engagement on a number of rostering issues affecting interns. According to Mr Maier, these issues included interns being told “at the last minute” of additional on-call requirements at weekends, and not being provided with rosters within the two-week notice period, as set out in the NCHD contract.

Mr Maier said that despite ongoing attempts to arrange a meeting or teleconference with hospital representation, this had not occurred to date. 

The IMO had met with interns in October and found “things had gotten worse”, he added.

There were instances of interns told to find their own sick leave cover or else the other intern would “have to do it by themselves”. Situations had occurred where an intern was left holding the medical, surgical and cardiac bleeps, he added.

The union had received letters back from the hospital stating that it was not aware of the instances raised and did not have access to the resources required. Furthermore, there was no offer to discuss matters further, said Mr Maier.

He said the IMO has “very high” membership among the intern and wider NCHD cohorts at the hospital. “They want their union to be engaged on talks on everyday issues. The shocking thing from our perspective is there is no willingness to engage.”

Mr Maier said the union would continue to seek engagement from the hospital. It is not yet decided whether a ballot for industrial action, if it proceeds, will involve interns only or all NCHDs at Drogheda.

He said the degree of non-engagement from the hospital was “very unusual”.

“I don’t know what is causing this and that is why it is puzzling,” he told the Medical Independent (MI) last week.  

Mr Maier said the intern cohort were “very frustrated” about the rostering issues raised and lack of engagement from the hospital.

A ballot could take place before or after Christmas.

MI contacted RCSI Hospitals, of which Our Lady of Lourdes is a constituent hospital, for comment. However, no response was received by time of publication.

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