Hospital doctors will today begin voting on whether to go on strike next year.
The Irish Medical Organisation is accusing the Government of “putting patient safety at risk” and is asking its members to back industrial action up to and including strike action.
The organisation said it has been left with no choice due to the Government’s “continual failure” to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis in the profession.
It is calling for an “immediate increase” in the number of consultants employed by the HSE and an “immediate end” to pay inequality.
Former IMO President Dr. Matthew Sadlier said the organisation has been left with no choice but to consider action:
“We see no other option but industrial action which is a move that, like any organisation, would be our last course of action.
“We have got to a point in this country which is unprecedented in our history where we have 500 of the 3,000 consultant posts are either vacant or filled on a temporary basis.
“That is one six of consultant posts – which is an unprecedented crisis in the health service.”
He said pay equality must be restored.
“What we are looking for is pay parity among consultants
“We are not looking for a pay rise what we are looking for is for consultants recruited after 2012 are paid at the same rate as their colleagues recruited before 2012.”
Dr Sadlier said the organisation expects to receive a strong mandate for industrial action.
“It is a basic principle that equal work should mean equal pay, and the fact is that Consultants have been unfairly targeted by a Government that does not value patient welfare,” he said.
“This unjustifiable pay disparity has led to an unprecedented crisis in a health service with unsafe waiting times and too few doctors to meet patient demand.
“We are at breaking point.”
The ballot papers are being sent to consultant and non-consultant hospital doctors and voting will remain open until December 17th.
It is hoped the result will be known shortly after.