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Mediation process for GP programme directors fails

The three-day mediation process between the IMO and HSE, chaired by Ms Marguerite Bolger, Senior Counsel specialising in employment law, was unable to result in any agreement.

Mr Val Moran, IMO Director of Industrial Relations, General Practice, Public and Community Health, said that while the mediation process is confidential, he could say that the IMO and HSE were unable to reach heads of agreement to be considered by members of the Organisation.

“The IMO will be holding a national meeting in June to discuss next steps with the IMO members who are programme directors and assistant programme directors. This meeting will consider all options open to IMO members,” he said.

“It is a matter of some disappointment to the IMO and its members that the HSE were unable to table a concrete offer, which would validate the programme directors’ and assistant programme directors’ employment rights.

“Programme directors and assistant programme directors have been the backbone of GP training for many years. The GP training scheme has consistently high satisfaction ratings amongst trainees and it is disappointing in the extreme that this service is not being recognised and appreciated by the HSE.”

Cork GP Dr John Sheehan, who is an Assistant Programme Director with the Cork Specialist Training Programme for General Practice, described the outcome of the mediation process as “very disappointing but not surprising”.

He added that the lack of agreement now “leaves a huge amount of uncertainty” surrounding the future of GP training.

“Will there be further negotiations or will this end up in the Labour Court or High Court? Nobody wants to do that but unfortunately, it’s hard to see things progressing from where they are now when the sides are so far apart,” he said.

It is understood the HSE does not view the individuals concerned — there are around 70 affected, it is believed — as HSE employees and that the IMO sought to vindicate their rights during mediation. It is not yet clear what impact the failure will have on the transfer timeline, with the transfer due for completion in July 2019.

While many directors have concerns about the proposed future structure of GP training, the mediation process focused only on industrial relations issues.

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