Last-minute talks aimed at resolving row over doctors scheduled

High Court case on abolition of €3,000 ‘living-out’ allowance to start on Tuesday

Last-minute talks aimed at resolving a dispute over a €3,000 allowance for non-consultant doctors are expected to get underway on Monday. Photograph: Thinkstock

Last-minute talks aimed at resolving a dispute over a €3,000 allowance for non-consultant doctors are expected to get underway on Monday. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

Last-minute talks aimed at resolving a dispute over a €3,000 allowance for non-consultant doctors are expected to get underway on Monday.

A High Court case on the issue of the abolition of the “living-out” allowance for non-consultant hospital doctors by the then government in 2012 is due to commence on Tuesday.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has also previously warned that it will ballot its non-consultant hospital members for strike action if the living-out allowance is not resolved.

A talks process between the IMO and the Department of Health ended unsuccessfully on Friday.

However, Government sources suggested that further efforts aimed at resolving the dispute would take place on Monday.

The health service had previously forecast that the State’s potential liability, if it lost the court case over the “living out” accommodation allowance, could be up to €120 million although the IMO believes the figure would be considerably lower.

The dispute involving non-consultant hospital doctors over the living-out allowance is just one of a number in the health service at present.

The Irish Times reported last week that health service management had agreed to put in place a new scheme to evaluate the roles of thousands of health service support staff in an attempt to avert a threatened separate strike in hospitals next month.

If the existing roles of the staff concerned are considered to have expanded, they could be in line for higher pay next year.

However, there was no agreement on other grievances raised by the trade union Siptu.

The union is seeking similar concessions for its members in emergency departments to those awarded to nurses a year ago, which included promotions, additional annual leave and the introduction of a €1,500 education bursary.

Separately industrial action by more than 30,000 nurses is scheduled to take place from March 7th in a dispute over the recruitment and retention of staff.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is to meet with the HSE on Tuesday with regard to contingency measures to be put in place in the event of the dispute going ahead.