The IMO is expected to vote in favour of organising a ballot of its consultants and NCHDs this evening to allow industrial action, escalating its ‘Fight for Fairness’ campaign.
The union met with officials from the Department of Health, the HSE and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 17 October last.
“Regrettably, the Government failed to put forward any proposals to address the consultant recruitment and retention crisis at this meeting and did not engage on this issue within a three-week deadline imposed by the IMO,” according to the Organisation.
The IMO’s key demands are an immediate end to the “unjustifiable pay inequality faced by consultants which is based solely on when they were appointed”; and an immediate increase in the number of consultants employed in the health system in line with recommended ratios
Speaking at a press briefing this morning, Dr Matthew Sadlier, a member of the IMO consultants committee, said: “The Government is ignoring the dire implications of the consultant recruitment crisis. Yesterday, hospitals recorded the second highest ever level of patients on trolleys and we currently have 770,000 patients on hospital waiting lists.
“There are a further 165,000 waiting for vital imaging services such as MRI; this is against the backdrop of a health service that has the lowest number of specialists per capita in the EU.
“We expect the consultant and NCHD members of the union to agree to hold a ballot for industrial action this evening to send this Government the strongest signal yet that this situation is intolerable and cannot be allowed to continue.”
Dr Anthony O’Connor, a member of the IMO consultants committee, said: “The IMO has consistently warned the Government about the state of the health service and there is huge frustration among both consultants and NCHDs, our consultants of the future, that it does not seem ready and willing to engage in any meaningful way. Regrettably, we have been left with no choice but to consider a ballot for industrial action.”
“Our health service is at breaking point; our doctors are being trained for export to countries with better healthcare systems, that value both patients and doctors. In Ireland, the appalling and persistent shortage of doctors, especially specialists, means that patients are denied the care that they need when they need it.”