HSE claims junior doctors seeking triple time
Health boss says demand for extra payment for shifts over 24 hours ‘perverse incentive’
Junior doctors have demanded in negotiations with the Health Service Executive to be paid triple time for any hours worked in excess of a 24-hour shift, according to the HSE.
HSE national director of human resources Barry O’Brien said the demand, described by the Irish Medical Organisation as a “sanction” on hospitals, was in fact a “perverse incentive”.
The IMO has called a one-day strike of junior doctors next Tuesday over the issue of long working hours. This follows the breakdown of negotiations between the organisation and the HSE.
Mr O’Brien said today that the two sides had been working collectively under the Labour Relations Commission and making progress until the IMO raised the issue of sanctions “very late in the day”.
“They are proposing additional payment for non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) for work they would already have been paid for,” he told RTÉ Radio. Mr O’Brien said this wouldn’t add any value and would more appropriately be dealt with under the Haddington Road agreement. He didn’t have the discretion to introduce a pay rate of triple time in this instance.
In talks on the issue last month, the HSE agreed to introduce a maximum 24-hour shift for junior doctors next month, except in exceptional circumstances, and to fully implement this measure by January. It also undertook to comply with the European Working Time Directive, limiting the working week to 48 hours, by the end of next year.
IMO industrial relations executive Val Jones said significant differences remained between the sides. “The main issue between the sides is the issue of sanctions. We’ve sought that if hospitals fail to meet agreed deadlines that sanctions will apply to them. The HSE is refusing to apply them in those circumstances.”
Mr O’Brien said the strike, which will see junior doctors provide Sunday service on a weekday, could have significant implications for the health service. However, he said there was still an opportunity for the two sides to re-engage.