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The IMO’s membership of specialists and specialist registrars in public health medicine have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action.
The results of a special ballot on this issue were announced at 5pm this evening and showed that 94 per cent voted in favour of industrial action.
As a result, the public health committee of the IMO will meet on Monday next (30 November) to determine the timing and scope of industrial action. It will then advise the HSE and Department of Health so that engagement can take place on emergency cover during industrial action.
The IMO said that it was deeply regretful that specialists in public health medicine were being forced to take industrial action but the absence of any proposals from the Department of Health since the ballot was announced was indicative of its lack of respect for the medical workforce and its lack of urgency on public health medicine, even during a pandemic.
Speaking following the vote, Dr Ina Kelly, Chair of the IMO public health committee, said: “This is a fight for the future of public health medicine in Ireland. The refusal to follow international best practice and recognise consultant status and provide consultant contracts for suitably qualified specialists in public health medicine and the inadequate staff and resources for public health medicine can no longer be tolerated.
“We will take industrial action in order to save public health medicine in this country and to help make it fit-for-purpose. Doctors fully recognise their ethical responsibilities to patients and are very angry that Government has effectively forced us to take industrial action. Government must recognise that it too has an ethical responsibility to provide a comprehensive, safe, effective and sustainable public health medicine service to the Irish people.”
Dr Geraldine McDarby, recent graduate of the Higher Specialist Training Scheme in Public Health Medicine and Ireland’s first Health Service Improvement Fellow, said: “With my clinical experience and training, countries around the world are more than willing to employ me as a consultant in public health medicine, but I can’t be recognised at that level here in Ireland. This is blatantly unfair.
“The message my colleagues and I hear loud and clear is that if we want our qualifications to be recognised we will have to go abroad where the contribution of Public Health doctors is valued and consultants are being actively recruited.”
The IMO said that all doctors practising across the health system stand in full support of their public health medicine colleagues in their fight for consultant status.