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In sharp contrast the Department of Health said it welcomed the decision.
The IMO said it was disappointed that the European Commission did not succeed in establishing that Ireland failed to fulfill its obligations under the EWTD. However the union insisted that the judgment does not affect the collective agreement reached between the IMO and the HSE on “the implementation of legal and safe working hours for NCHDs”.
“We need the HSE and Government to show real commitment to doctors and patients,” said Dr John Duddy, Chair of the union’s NCHD Committee.
“The only way to do this is through implementation of the agreement to address unsafe working hours for doctors. This is not just an issue for doctors – these hours have an adverse effect on patient safety and are a contributing factor to Irish doctors leaving Irish hospitals to work abroad The current situation is unsustainable.
“The Minister has a responsibility to ensure that doctors work in a safe environment and patients are treated in a safe environment. No one should be in doubt at the level of NCHD anger and frustration at the delays by the HSE in meeting their obligations.”
However on the government side the Department of Health welcomed that “the Court has recognised in its judgment that protected training time, that is where the NCHD is engaged in educational and training activities and is not available to the employer for work purposes, does not constitute working time.”
“This part of the judgment will support the achievement of EWTD compliance,” claimed the Department in a statement.
“It will be incorporated into the detailed implementation plan, currently being prepared by the HSE, for achievement of compliance with the 48 hour maximum average working week requirement.
“The Government, the Department and the HSE are committed to achieving full compliance with the 48 hour requirement as soon as possible.
“Attainment of full EWTD compliance will require reconfiguration of some services across hospitals groups and the completion of the capital projects in train relating to paediatrics and maternity.”