The IMO has filed “a number of anonymous” complaints with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) seeking inspections of hospitals allegedly breaching working time law. The complaints from NCHDs relate to breaches of the maximum 48-hour week in sites nationally, Industrial Relations Officer at the IMO, Mr Paul Maier, told the Medical Independent. Mr Maier did not wish to disclose the names of hospitals to be inspected, but they included hospitals in all seven Hospital Groups.
The HSE’s ability to provide governance of NCHD working hours “doesn’t seem to be effective and we say that with resignation”, he added. Mr Maier said the Organisation was mainly pursuing inspections rather than adjudication claims, as the issue was systemic.
“[NCHDs] don’t believe they are individually unique in their claim. They are raising the issue not because they feel they want to be compensated or feel individually wronged, but because they feel the system as a whole is wrong. The inspections are a way to ask for a review of the system of work.”
However, Mr Maier did not rule out the submission of adjudication claims, which the union previously identified as a strategy to force reform on NCHD working hours.
“For the time being, we will continue to file inspection claims for additional sites as they arise.”
If teams in sites are facing particularly egregious breaches of working time law, “we may have that cohort file for adjudication as a group.” Mr Maier urged healthcare management to engage on the issue. Compliance with working time law will entail “fundamental change” in the health service, including restructuring services, making consultant posts more attractive, and ensuring NCHD training is less impacted by service provision.