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IMO seeks ‘early return’ to negotiations on public health status

The IMO has called for negotiations on the introduction of consultant status for public health specialists to begin as “soon as possible”.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI)  a week after IMO members agreed to delay strike action for two months, Dr Ina Kelly, Chairperson of the IMO Public Health Committee, highlighted her concerns with the lack of movement.

“There is nothing really substantial to say in terms of an update,” Dr Kelly told MI on Friday 25 September.

“But the fact that there isn’t a substantial update in of itself is …  a concern.

“Therefore we will be continuing to push for early return to negotiations on the consultant contract as soon as possible.”

Earlier this month (18 September), IMO members agreed to delay a decision on strike action for two months given the Covid-19 crisis. 

According to a statement from the union, public health specialists from the IMO met consider the “recent refusal of the Government to set out a definitive timeline for the introduction of consultant status for public health specialists”. 

The IMO members decided that for “ethical reasons in the context of the Covid crisis, they would not proceed to industrial action at this time and mandated the IMO to engage with the Department for a time limited period of two months to see if the matter can be resolved.” 

Dr Kelly said: “Our members are frustrated and angry at the continued refusal of the Department of Health to grant us consultant status even as the same Department relies on us to lead the fight against Covid-19.” 

“Public health medicine is critical to the ongoing management of the nation’s health and we have stepped up to the plate during this crisis taking on additional duties, additional hours even though our workforce was seriously understaffed even before Covid. 

“If the Government are really serious about a consultant led public health system we must see the same level of commitment from them.  Hand clapping and thanks are not the response we need.”

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