Planned strike action by public health doctors has been deferred due to the rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland.
The Public Health Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has decided to defer three days of strike action planned this month.
The decision to defer the strike action planned for January 14, 20 and 21 was made given the escalating incidence of Covid-19 and the critical role of public health specialists in controlling the virus and breaking chains of transmission.
Chair of the IMO Public Health Committee, Dr Ina Kelly, said that that it is “nothing short of disgraceful that we are almost a year into this pandemic and have had no meaningful engagement with Government” on the importance of supporting public health.
“For all the talk from the Government on the importance of supporting public health we are more than disappointed, frustrated and angry that even now our Public Health Departments are wholly under resourced and Government has still not even come to us with proposals to reform the system so that we can have a consultant led public health service,” she said.
Dr Kelly said that such lack of engagement “confirms to us that this Government neither respects nor values the work of public health doctors and it strengthens our resolve to win this battle in the coming months in order to protect the future of public health in Ireland”.
We went into this pandemic understaffed, under-resourced and under-valued and nothing has changed. We still have no consultant led public health teams and inadequate staffing and we are still overwhelmed on a daily basis.
She said that the decision to defer action is based “purely on ethical considerations” and said that with careers dedicated to public health, to contemplate industrial action has been “an extremely difficult decision” but that the Government has “forced” public health doctors to do so.
“We can only hope that the Government will take this time to finally recognise the importance of a consultant led service, the need to immediately upgrade current specialists and to recruit additional consultants into the service and to ensure our Departments have permanent support staff. We are doing our best but with the inaction of Government we are fighting this pandemic with too few people who are being asked to do too much,” she said.
The Committee will review the situation again at the end of January.