The IMO has unanimously passed an emergency resolution in support of NCHDs. The emergency resolution was voted upon at the AGM of the IMO, which is taking place today in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
NCHDs are engaged in a campaign #standingup4NCHDs seeking to address unsafe working hours for both doctors and patients, as well as significant contract reform. NCHDs are currently balloting on taking industrial action, up to and including strike action, in support of their campaign. The ballot will close on the 9 June.
The emergency resolution passed at the AGM today states: “This AGM, on behalf of all members, fully supports our NCHDs and their #standingUP4NCHDs campaign and ballot for industrial action. The unsafe and illegal working hours, huge financial burdens and levels of burnout and stress faced by NCHDs will no longer be tolerated.
“We call on Government and the HSE to recognise and seriously address the challenges and inequities faced by our colleagues who are the consultants, GPs, public and community health doctors of the future.”
Dr John Cannon, Chair of the NCHD committee, said: “We welcome the unanimous vote in favour of this important resolution. The campaign for better conditions for NCHDs is a campaign being supported by all doctors, GPs, consultants, public and community health doctors. The current system is bad for doctors and unsafe for patients. We are driving more and more NCHDs abroad and there is no reason for them to come back. Current contract issues are a monumental act of self-harm by the HSE and the Government.”
Dr Cannon told the AGM that unless the HSE and Government seriously engage with the IMO to resolve these issues, there will be no alternative but to take industrial action. Dr Cannon said: “We as doctors want to treat and help patients but our current working conditions are actually unsafe for the very patients, we are trying to deliver care to. Taking industrial action is not an easy decision and we hope that it does not come to that, but it is entirely in the hands of the HSE and Government.”
According to the IMO, the immediate issues to be addressed are:
- The “systemic and persistent contract breaches around unsafe and illegal hours”.
- Implement “transparent verification and payment systems” for all hours worked, and a payment system that avoids repeated periods of paying emergency tax and reduces the need for NCHDs to repeatedly provide information already held within the system.
- Provide guaranteed access to annual leave and study leave.
- Introduce measures to address financial burden associated with training structures.
- Agree improvements to funding and operational issues for the training support scheme (TSS).
NCHDs are also seeking a full contract review that will recognise the “changing demographic” of the NCHD workforce. Dr Cannon said: “NCHDs are united, resolute, and determined to get progress on these issues. We will not settle for more lip service or promises of some great future, we need action now. This dispute needs to be resolved and we are prepared to enter negotiations to make the health service a safer place for patients and doctors alike.”