How burnout and unsafe working hours are pushing Ireland’s junior doctors to go on strike

Dr Jamie McGettigan is calling for an end to difficult working conditions

Earlier this month, Ireland’s junior doctors voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action over unsafe working hours, deteriorating working conditions and low pay.

The ballot called by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) was supported by 97 per cent of non-consultant doctors, formerly known as junior doctors. It came two months after IMO research found four out of five junior doctors were at risk of burnout with large numbers reporting mental issues as a result of poor working conditions.

So, just how bad are conditions for junior doctors, how unsafe are their working hours and why is the Irish health service still struggling to hold on to Irish trained doctors and stop them moving abroad?

Dr Jamie McGettigan, who works at Limerick Hospital Group and is a member of the IMO committee, told the podcast that the crisis had been “bubbling away for decades now” and creates a “real physical danger” to patients alongside the burnout among doctors themselves.

“Unfortunately, it saddens me to report, that the only way disputes get sorted out in the health service is that people go right to the brink,” says Irish Times health editor Paul Cullen, who also joins today’s podcast. The HSE now has three weeks to come up with proposals to show they’re serious about this and if they don’t, doctors will start planning industrial action, he added.

Today on In the News, why Ireland’s junior doctors feel they have no choice left but to go on strike.

In The News is presented by Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope and produced by Declan Conlan, Suzanne Brennan and Jennifer Ryan.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast

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