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Disquiet over NCHD agreement roll-out as contract talks imminent

By Catherine Reilly - 23rd Jul 2023

NCHD agreement

The IMO remains concerned about the level of implementation of the 2022 national NCHD agreement as it prepares to embark on contract negotiations with healthcare management.

The Organisation’s NCHD committee Chair, Dr Rachel McNamara, said high rates of implementation will be required to “restore trust between NCHDs and the employer, a trust which has been long injured”.

“When it comes to the compensatory rest days and rostering rules [in the agreement], it has been very hit and miss from the reports,” Dr McNamara told the Medical Independent (MI).

Speaking to MI shortly before the July changeover, she commented: “As recently as last week, reports have come through from a site that hadn’t heard of one of the elements of the agreement.”

This did not instil “huge confidence in it being rolled out in the way we would hope”. She underlined that the new rostering rules and compensatory rest entitlements are now contractual rights.

The IMO has been gathering data on implementation and will continue pushing for full enactment, according to Dr McNamara.

During the interview, Dr McNamara also stated that talks on a new NCHD contract were due to commence. The commitment to negotiations was included in the 2022 agreement, which was considered by the Organisation as an initial step to reforming NCHDs’ working lives.

Dr McNamara indicated that reforms pertaining to NCHD wellbeing and work/life balance would be strongly pursued. The issue of additional protections for NCHDs on-call was also being examined by the NCHD committee.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The Government recognises that NCHDs face particular work challenges in relation to working hours and working conditions and accepts that they need to be addressed.” A national implementation group was established to deliver implementation of the agreement. Implementation was “nearing completion from a national perspective and is being rolled out at sites locally”.

See news interview ‘There is a huge amount of trauma across the NCHD population’ – Medical Independent

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