There should be “ringfenced” on-site creche places for NCHDs’ children, a Castlerea GP stated at the IMO AGM’s general motions session.
Dr Madeleine Ní Dhálaigh, proposing a motion on gender equality in medicine on behalf of the IMO Council, told the meeting: “For the last 40 years we have known that increasing numbers of women have been choosing medicine as a career. It should come as no surprise to anyone here that we are the ones that become pregnant, bear the children, suffer miscarriage, have difficult fertility treatments, and we are also, as the study the IMO carried out two years ago [showed], the ones who provide most of the childcare and care for elderly parents.”
“And so, these absolute facts have been conveniently brushed under the carpet for far too long, and worse than that, they have been used to discriminate and harass the female medical population.”
It was high time for health service management to recognise that “they need to protect the needs of women, they need to provide planned childcare and breastfeeding facilities for women or retention will become only worse”.
She said access to flexible training options and reasonable notice of placements were necessary for all doctors.
“We need on-site creche facilities that have ringfenced places for the children of NCHDs. Because of their difficult nomadic lifestyle they need to be able to ensure their children have somewhere to be cared for, and that will also take a lot of stress from them because they know their children
are on site.”
Dr Ní Dhálaigh also said more training was required on addressing gender-based discrimination and harassment in the workplace and robust user-friendly structures for reporting these issues.
Speaking in support of the motion, Consultant in Emergency Medicine Dr Peadar Gilligan described the new consultant contract as a “huge retrograde step” for doctors’ family life. Referencing the working hours under the contract, he said the terms failed to consider the “feminisation” of the profession.
In passing the motion, the IMO called for the HSE to immediately support the removal of known barriers to gender equality in medicine, including the introduction of on-site flexible and affordable childcare options, significant improvements in family friendly policies, including a review of current training structures, cultural change to reduce gender-based discrimination and harassment, and a new fully-funded shared parental leave option for parents.
Earlier at the NCHD national meeting, members also highlighted “the catastrophic lack of adequate family friendly policies and work/life balance” for NCHDs.