Public health doctors who are key to managing the Covid-19 pandemic are to go on strike over three days from mid January.
he doctors, who are employed by the HSE, voted overwhelmingly last week for industrial action over the failure to progress their claim for the same status and salary of hospital consultants.
Following a meeting today, the doctors in the Irish Medical Organisation said if there is no resolution they will carry out a one day strike on Thursday January 14.
Two further strikes will follow on Thursday January 21 and Friday January 22.
They said they will consider further escalation of the action if matters remain unresolved.
Dr Ina Kelly, Chair of the Public Health Committee of the IMO said: “as a doctor who has committed my career to public health and the improvement of health outcomes for the population I am deeply distressed that it has come to this. It really is time for Government to step up to the plate and recognise their own ethical obligations and to honour agreements”.
They expressed deep disappointment at the lack of concern which the Government has displayed about this issue and criticised the misleading commentary on the issue from Government.
The Public Health Committee insisted it is not simply about a pay claim but about recognising the importance of consultants leading multi-disciplinary teams in a fully resourced public health service for Ireland.
While much focus has been on public health medicine as a result of Covid-19 there are many important population health issues that are crucial for the country. Covid-19 has exposed the fragility of our public health departments.
Dr. Ina Kelly said; “This weekend the Government attempted to confuse the issue. We want to be clear we have had no meaningful engagement with the Department of Health in the last five months, no business plan has been discussed with us, no new contract has been agreed. In fact, we are in a worse situation today than we were a year ago. During previous discussions in 2019 it was agreed between the Department and the IMO that the contract to be offered would be the current public only consultant contract.
“Talk of Slaintecare Contracts is disingenuous in the extreme considering such contracts do not exist and need to be agreed with the wider consultant body. We are not looking for anything more than the current contractual terms which are being offered to any consultant being recruited.
“It is all the more disappointing that we, as a specialty, have gone above and beyond in terms of taking on additional duties, working onerous hours and doing everything possible within our very limited resources to manage the pandemic.”
Dr. Kelly queried the lack of urgency in the Department of Health on the issue.
“The Minister and other Government representatives have called on us not to take industrial action during a pandemic – we call on them to take positive action on an issue which has a simple solution; honour Government commitments and implement the recommendations of the Crowe Howarth report which were supposed to be implemented in July 2020 following many years of no progress”.
Source: Irish News