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In a discussion on ‘The Road to a New NCHD Contract’, Dr Paddy Hillery noted how this threat had precipitated agreement on restoration this year of the Living Out Allowance.
“It was actually the threat of strike action that carried the issue over the line…We could have been stuck in legal argument for the next number of years but the threat of strike action brokered an agreement.”
Dr Hillery noted that the 2010 NCHD Contract was realised due to the threat of strike action, while industrial action taken in 2013 under the ‘24 No More’ campaign led to serious ongoing efforts towards European Working Time Directive (EWTD) implementation.
“As part of the settlement that came from NCHDs pushing for the Living Out Allowance, what became clear is that NCHDs’ main issue is training – the fact that we feel that we need more training supports, we feel there isn’t adequate financing for training, and that we are all paying out of pocket significant amounts towards our own training, because we feel it is necessary and because our employer says it is and our trainers say it is,” outlined Dr Hillery.
He continued: “So, the HSE maintains that no NCHD should pay for their own training and that would be the IMO’s position as well, that if you have mandatory training requirements, either by your hospital as the employer or your training body as your training body, that this should be funded…as opposed to out of your own pocket.”
The IMO has engaged in a survey of NCHDs to examine approximate costs across specialties, said Dr Hillery.
Negotiations on a new contract would likely take place in 2018 and the IMO was keen to gather views from NCHDs, emphasised Dr Hillery.
Dr Hillery also believed reform was required on salary scales, and greater centralisation to remove the bureaucracy associated with rotation between training posts and to ensure standard application of terms and conditions.
National NCHD Lead Dr Catherine Diskin told the meeting that flexible training should also be part of a new contract. She said doctors needed to have “a conversation” on flexible training, as it appeared stigmatised within the profession.