Medics to vote on industrial action over junior doctor hours

Workers have ‘had enough’, says Irish Medical Organisation spokesman

Medical professionals may vote for industrial action today as directives to reduce long working hours for junior doctors have not yet been implemented. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Medical professionals may vote for industrial action today as directives to reduce long working hours for junior doctors have not yet been implemented. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 13:41

Medical professionals may vote for industrial access today as directives to reduce long working hours have not yet been implemented.

Under the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) the practice of Non Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) working excessively long shifts would be brought to an end. In June, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) decided that a ballot on industrial action should be held today.

The directive would ensure a maximum 24 hour shift for NCHDs, a maximum average working week of 48 hours on site, the removal of inappropriate non-clinical tasks and the payment of all hours worked through a clock-in system.

An online poll from the Medical Independent showed strong support from industrial action, with 96 per cent of respondents saying they support the action by junior doctors.

Speaking on RTÉ radio this morning, IMO assistant director of industrial relations Eric Young said doctors across the country feel the time for industrial action has come.

“Feedback from doctors across the country is that they’ve had enough, the talking has gone on long enough and it is time to take action,” he said.

“There have been plans and promises over this period and none of them have achieved the level of compliance that makes patient care safe. The real issue here is that patients are being treated by doctors who have been on their feet for 36 hours.”

Mr Young said if medical workers do vote for industrial action, doctors will still be available and patient care in hospitals would not be impacted. Much work performed by junior doctors can be done by other hospital staff, he said.