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Hospitals fined more than €4 million for EWTD maximum shift breaches

Fines amounted to €794,688 in the first quarter of 2016, with total fines applied to hospitals in breach of the Directive in 2015 amounting to €3,272,707.

Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan (€87,500), University Hospital Limerick (€81,250) and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin (€72,917), were accorded the highest fines in quarter one 2016. 

In 2015, Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, was accorded the highest sanction (€291,668), followed by Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise (€277,084).

Under a Labour Relations Commission agreement between the IMO and health service management, it is a priority to ensure that sanctions cannot reduce the resources available for patient care.

However, by press time, the HSE had not responded to questions on how the monies are redistributed.

IMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Mr Eric Young told MI: “There are a number of projects that have been funded from that [fines], in terms of rostering-type projects, training-type projects and other induction-type things that have been used to be able to increase the number of NCHDs and increase their capacity to be able to work better and smarter within the system.”

Mr Young said that, overall, “great progress” had been made on EWTD compliance.

As of June 2016, overall compliance with the maximum 24-hour shift was at 97 per cent.

Compliance with the average 48-hour week was 80 per cent.

According to the HSE, there were 4,367 NCHDs working in publicly-funded hospitals in January 2014 and this had increased to 5,467 by June 2016. Direct pay costs associated with this additional number are approximately €73 million. 

A national verification process involving the IMO has been in place to monitor and investigate EWTD compliance.

IMO President Dr John Duddy said there were instances of NCHDs disputing the accuracy of hospital EWTD compliance figures. He urged NCHDs to bring this information to the IMO to investigate.

“There may be issues with the accuracy of reporting from some hospitals, but as I said, that is anecdotal and if NCHDs are saying that, then they need to bring evidence of that to the IMO because there is that verification process in place,” he told MI.

See news analysis, p4-5

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