Doctors may strike over "living out allowance"

The Irish Medical Organisation says government pay policy has “led directly to the inability of our health services to retain or recruit doctors.”

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File photo. Image: Andrew Matthews / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Non-consultant hospital doctors could be set for strike action should they fail to reach an agreement with the government over the 'living-out allowance.'

The council of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) - which represents 3,000 non-consultant hospital doctors - voiced their unanimous support for Non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHD) today.

The allowance - abolished in 2012 - entitled junior doctors to a weekly stipend of €61 per week if a hospital did not provide its own free accommodation.

Negotiations with the government are due to begin on Tuesday following High Court action by the IMO last month.

In a statement this afternoon the IMO said they would “fully support their colleagues in taking industrial action, up to and including strike action, to resolve matters should the negotiations not yield an adequate response from Government.”

It said government pay policy is leading to insufficient numbers of doctors to adequately treat patients and warned that, “patients will suffer in the long run with increasing waiting lists, more overcrowding in Emergency Departments and not enough services provided by GPs.”

IMO president, Dr John Duddy said government pay policy has “led directly to the inability of our health services to retain or recruit doctors.”

 “If you breach contracts and deliberately create a policy that disrespects and devalues doctors they will simply choose to work for countries that value them and allow them to do the work for which they have trained,” he said.

“Doctors, like other members of the public services, were prepared to take cuts in the recession however the cuts applied to members of the medical profession and the consistent breaches of contracts were over and above those suffered by other public service employees” he said.

“With policies like this in place our health services will continue to roll from crisis to crisis and patients will suffer." 

He said doctors do not want to take industrial action but will be forced to do so if the government “refuses to acknowledge or deal with the problem.”