The possibility of doctors withdrawing services is looming following a decision by the Irish Medical Organise (IMO) to begin balloting members amid growing unrest at pay inequality and the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis.
The ballot seeks a mandate from consultants and junior doctors for industrial action, up to and including withdrawal of services.
The IMO said its key demands are:
The IMO has repeatedly said pay inequality is directly linked to the recruitment and retention crisis.
Matthew Sadlier, former president of the IMO and a member of its Consultants’ Committee, said doctors do not want to take industrial action “but at this stage there is no other option”.
Dr Sadlier said that the country had “already lost one generation of doctors to emigration and we cannot let that happen again”.
He said they expected a “strong mandate for action” given the frustration of members “and the growing concern for the safety of our patients”.
Anthony O’Connor, IMO consultants’ committee member, said the Government is looking for reform “but the IMO cannot enter into negotiations on these matters until the recruitment crisis is addressed”.
He said this country already has the lowest number of specialists per capita in the EU.
Clive Kilgallen, chairman of the IMO consultants’ committee, said it is “a grim indictment of our health service that we have been forced into this action”.
Dr Kilgallen added: “However, we cannot continue like this with an environment of normalised crisis.”
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation published figures on Friday which showed that more than 108,000 patients on trolleys for the year to November, higher than all of 2018, and ahead of the peak flu season.
The IMO ballot will conclude on December 17.