IMO agrees to re-enter talks on doc strike

The IMO has agreed to re-enter talks aimed at resolving the dispute over excessive junior doctor working hours.

The union said this followed receipt of a letter from the HSE yesterday that indicated that it (the HSE) accepted the need for financial sanctions to be in place to prevent excessive working hours.

The union said its junior doctor committee earlier this morning had accepted an invitation to attend LRC talks later today 'in order to hear the views of the HSE on this critical issue.'

The talks follow yesterday's one-day junior doctor strike. The IMO has warned that if there is no progress in the renewed talks, the strike could escalate next week.

The HSE has now told the IMO it would impose financial penalties on hospitals that breached a 24-hour shift limit on doctors, while Minister Reilly has said hospital managers who failed to keep medical staff within shift limits would be moved from their posts.

Last week, however, the IMO rejected draft proposals from the HSE that promised similar budgetary and administrative sanctions on hospitals that breached doctors' shift limits. The IMO claimed at the time that these proposals lacked credibility.

More than 3,000 junior doctors went on a one-day strike yesterday in protest at their excessive working hours.

Health Minister James Reilly told Fianna Fail health spokesperson Billy Kelleher that fewer hospital patients than predicted had been affected by stoday's trike. He said no more than 7,400 patients had been affected by the industrial action.

Dr Reilly told the Dail that junior doctors had a right to reasonable working hours, but major progress had been made recently in tackling this long-standing problem.

The Minister said patients who had had procedures deferred would be offered the earliest possible re-attendance dates.

He said he was very keen that the issue should be resolved and the IMO had been invited to LRC talks to discuss 'all manner of sanctions' that could be imposed on hospitals who breach a new limit of 24 hours on continuous doctor shifts.

This is a key sticking point in the IMO-HSE dispute.

Meanwhile, the IMO acknowledged the 'exceptional level' of support received by its NCHD (junior doctor) members from the public for their day of action against 'dangerously long working hours'. 

The IMO, in a statement, said a realistic engagement by the HSE was needed on outstanding issues.

Prior to the strike, the union had refused to enter last-ditch talks aimed at averting industrial action, as it said there was no basis for further discussions.

Junior doc strike hits services

[Posted: Wed 09/10/2013]

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