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Talks ongoing on area medical officer pay dispute

The IMO is engaged in talks with the HSE on obtaining improved pay and conditions for area medical
officers (AMOs) on a par with senior medical officer (SMO) colleagues. According to Mr Thomas Smyth, Manager of IMO Member Advisory Services, discussions are ongoing with the HSE. The talks follow a decision in early 2020 by a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer against the IMO in a case where the union argued an AMO was denied a promotion to SMO due to indirect age discrimination.

The IMO referred the matter to the WRC for conciliation and talks between the IMO and the HSE began
late last year.

“We hope to come to agreement on this matter, but failing this we would then look to refer the matter to the Labour Court for a recommendation. We are looking at different options and are still engaged in a conciliation process,” Mr Smyth told the Medical Independent.

There are currently between 16 and 20 AMOs, or community health doctors, some of whom work on a part-time basis. AMOs work in various HSE community health services nationally. Since 2003, the number of AMOs has been dwindling and some community medical departments are already without any AMOs. New structures were introduced in 2004 resulting in no further AMO recruitment. The restructuring process led to an inequality between AMO and SMO positions.

Despite both posts involving similar duties in immunisation and child health services, SMOs are paid more than AMOs.
The salary scale for an AMO, based on October 2020 figures, begins at €70,000 to a maximum of €82,728. For SMOs, the salary scale begins at €83,796, increasing to a maximum of €97,370.

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