Doctors at CUH ‘owed six months overtime’

Junior doctors who have threatened to ballot for industrial action at a Cork hospital say they are owed unrostered overtime payments stretching back six months.

This is despite the fact that management at Cork University Hospital promised to reimburse the doctors by Feb 14.

When this did not happen, the non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) warned management they had until Mar 28 to pay up. If monies are not repaid by then, a ballot will take place on that date.

Last night, an NCHD committee spokesperson at CUH said they had not been paid for unrostered overtime from July to December last year. He said their contract stated that any hour worked and signed off on by the relevant consultant had to be paid by the hospital. However, this had not happened.

“Management told us last July that the hospital was struggling financially and that they needed to cut down on overtime. New rosters were sent out and then we were subsequently told no unrostered overtime would be paid.”

They were told in December by Richard Greene, the hospital’s clinical director, that the money owed would be paid in February, but it was not, leading to the threat of ballot.

The NCHD spokesman said the nature of their jobs meant work inevitably had to be carried out outside of rostered hours. For example, on a theatre day, an NCHD training in surgery might be rostered to start at 8.30am, to coincide with the start of theatre, but in reality, he or she came in earlier to carry out a ward round in advance. This meant rosters were not reflecting the reality of a working day.

Management attempted to redraw rosters to more accurately reflect hours worked and cut down on unrostered overtime. This had partially helped.

An unrostered overtime form was also introduced where NCHDs were to detail the reasons that gave rise to the need for extra hours. The NCHD representative said they had no problem with this request, which was designed to find out why unrostered overtime was necessary.

However, they did have a problem with the fact that if even one hour of unrostered overtime was queried, then no overtime at all, including rostered overtime, would be paid that month. The NCHD said this had caused problems for doctors, who also had bills to pay.

NCHDs are also campaigning to have their level of overtime reduced, with the goal of making every hospital compliant with the European working time directive. The HSE has sent a 15-point plan to all hospital management to reduce hours worked by doctors, but six of the points are about hiring more NCHDs.

“Prof Greene has stated that CUH cannot afford to do this,” said the NCHD spokesman.


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