Junior doctors 'at breaking point' as industrial action expected

Before the pandemic, junior doctors had been considering industrial action over illegal working hours and financial stress.
Junior doctors 'at breaking point' as industrial action expected

Junior doctors, who have been described as being "at breaking point" are expected to take industrial action.

It comes as the Irish Medical Organisation's (IMO) annual general meeting was held in Dublin on Saturday.

The IMO expects a ballot which proposes industrial action "to pass with flying colours".

However, the union said would rather discuss solutions with Government than strike.

Before the pandemic, junior doctors, also known as non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs), had been considering industrial action over illegal working hours and financial stress.

The strike action was held off to avoid the health service being overwhelmed due to Covid-19.

Speaking to Newstalk, IMO representative Dr John Cannon said junior doctors are at breaking point.

"Our reserves are gone, there is nothing left in the tank, and we cannot go on like this," Dr Cannon said.

"While we were able to do the little Dutch boy with the finger in the well before the pandemic came...we can't do that any more.

"We've burned through all of our reserves in the pandemic, and now we can no longer keep a dysfunctional health system running as we did previously."

Addressing the IMO conference, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly committed to reforms for NCHDs.

“Non-consultant hospital doctors should get paid for all hours worked. They should not have to work unsafe hours.

“They should have access to training and be able to take annual and study leave. They should have access to adequate facilities at work.

“I have written to the HSE asking that they engage with you, and I have been assured that by them that they will work collaboratively with the IMO to address these issues.”

As reported in The Irish Times, outgoing IMO president Dr Ina Kelly said that while his words were welcome, the ballot for industrial action would continue.

“The Minister himself has acknowledged the horrendous working conditions they are operating in,” she said.

“These are problems that are going to have be fixed.

“There is a lot of work to be done, a lot of negotiations to be done, and a lot of money to be put behind what’s been said. NCHDs are not being paid for every hour they work, and they are working in excess of legal hours.

“The NCHDs need to see action, so we will need to go into negotiations, but the dispute continues. We expect, from what we’re hearing, it will be an overwhelming vote for industrial action next Wednesday.”

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