INDUSTRIAL action from hospital doctors and consultants threatens to cause further chaos in the health service in early 2020, it has been warned.
Hospital doctors and consultants have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, which is likely to take place early in the New Year.
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said doctors can no longer tolerate the decimation of health services in Ireland, and the “life-threatening effect” this is having on patients throughout the country.
Dr Luke, an Emergency Medicine consultant in Cork and Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Public Health at UCC, admitted he would be very anxious about any industrial or strike action by consultants and hospital doctors and the possible impact on the health service.
“I can’t see how industrial action of any degree would not just make things even more difficult for everybody.”
Dr Luke explained he has seen a number of strike actions during his almost 40 years in the health service, and that he was involved in one in his early twenties.
“I understand the anguish and anxiety of doctors in the IMO and IHCA (Irish Hospital Consultants Association),” he said.
“The conditions in the health service are very, very difficult.
“There is a vicious circle in which the shortage of consultants makes conditions worse for patients who have to wait longer to be seen or treated and it makes conditions worse for the existing staff,” he added.
“It is reportedly going to cost around €40m for the Department of Health to address this issue, at the heart of which remains pay disparity.
“Given the billions that are spent on the health service, the impact of shortages and the enormous cost of locum doctors, it’s a relatively small price to pay in order to restore a little bit of piece in the health sector.”
Cork GP Dr Nick Flynn said he understands the consultants’ need to strike but he added it will impact routine appointments.
“It’ll create further backlogs in an already backlogged system,” he said.
“That’s not to be critical of the consultants or their position - the consultants are entitled to further their case - but it’s the reality of it that we will have patients waiting longer.”