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NCHDs rotating around country ‘with few practical supports’

By Reporter - 08th Jul 2024

The IMO has reiterated the need for urgent cultural and systemic changes to “convince NCHDs to stay practising” in the Irish health system.

Today (8 July) is Changeover Day, which sees NCHDs rotate to new hospitals for either three, six or 12 months. It is also the first working day for interns.

The IMO has said the ongoing recruitment freeze means that NCHDs are being forced to work even longer hours and additional shifts at very short notice. This pressure is exacerbating an “already dismal working environment”, which routinely sees NCHDs obliged to work excess hours in contravention of the European Working Time Directive.

Dr Rachel McNamara, Chair of the NCHD committee, said: “Changeover Day sees thousands of NCHDs rotate around the country with few meaningful practical supports, upending family life and causing a huge amount of frustration. In addition, most graduate doctors are entering the workforce with huge debts which will take years to repay. If we want to retain our doctors and sufficiently recruit for the future, it is imperative that we change the way we treat them.”

Dr McNamara said that a recent survey conducted by the IMO highlighted the poor working conditions facing NCHDs. “The results of our survey were disappointing but not at all surprising. Among the findings were that three-quarters of NCHDs do not feel valued, respected and supported by their employer; over eight-in-ten say they have routinely worked over 48 hours a week in the past three months; and three-quarters are unsatisfied with the work-life balance their current role offers them.”

She said urgent change was needed. “If nothing is done, we will lose another generation of doctors to other health systems that value their contribution and crucially, offer them the kind of work-life balance that should be a feature of our health system. We need action and unprecedented reform in a number of areas, including working hours, supports, and realistic childcare options.”

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