Proposals raised in recent discussions between the Minister for Health and his officials with NCHD representatives will help inform a policy paper on recruitment, the Medical Independent (MI) has been informed.
The Sláintecare Action Plan 2022, published in June, commits the Government to develop a “policy proposals paper to enhance recruitment and retention of NCHDs”. According to the plan, this paper should be developed by the third quarter of this year.
NCHDs recently met with Minister Stephen Donnelly after IMO NCHD members voted in support of industrial action, up to and including strike action, arising from “unsafe and illegal” working hours and poor working conditions. The issue of ongoing payroll problems has also been raised by NCHDs this month.
Asked whether recent engagements will inform the planned policy paper, a Department spokesperson said at these meetings Minister Donnelly and Department officials have heard “first-hand issues of concern to them [NCHDs] and how things may be improved”.
“A range of initiatives, many of which were proposed by NCHDs, will be given full consideration by the HSE to improve their training, working conditions, and work/life balance,” the spokesperson told MI.
“Discussions and measures to address recruitment and retention for NCHDs are ongoing.”
The Sláintecare Action Plan 2022 also commits the Government to “review and enhance” the model for industrial relations in the health sector to support delivery of reforms. This review is scheduled to take place in the third quarter of this year.
Asked what form this review will take, the Department’s spokesperson said that “as the health service undergoes significant change through the implementation of Sláintecare and its related reforms, including the introduction of regional health areas, the efficient and effective functioning of industrial relations processes in the sector will naturally be kept under review to ensure they are facilitating stakeholders during this change programme”.
“Enhancements to the model of industrial relations will be considered where these would facilitate better outcomes for patients, improve constructive interfacing with representative bodies, and improve value for public funds.”