The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is to sue the HSE in a dispute over the non-payment of a living-out allowance to approximately 3,000 junior hospital doctors.
The doctors’ union issued a statement last night saying it is taking legal action on behalf of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs), including interns, senior house officers, and registrars, whom it argues are entitled to a living-out allowance of €3,182 per annum.
The union says payment of the allowance to doctors in public hospitals, which is set out in their employment contract, formed part of a settlement of a High Court case in January 2010.
IMO vice president, Dr John Duddy, said the allowance was agreed following threatened strike action by junior doctors in 2010.
However, in 2012 the HSE ceased paying the allowance to all new entrants while those in receipt of it held on to it.
Dr Duddy said “this was a ploy to wind-down the payment of this allowance as existing recipients moved through the system”.
“The position of the IMO is that the HSE is in breach of the High Court settlement and has sought to have the matter resolved through normal industrial relations channels.
“When no progress was made on the issue, legal correspondence was exchanged between IMO solicitors and the HSE’s solicitors.
“Given that the matter remains unresolved the IMO is now bringing a motion to the High Court,” Dr Duddy said.
The IMO said last night that approximately 3,000 junior doctors should be in receipt of the allowance but were not.
As the allowance had not been paid since 2012, the total amount outstanding is now more than €10,000.
The HSE was not in a position to comment last night. However, it has previously said that the issue of the allowance was the subject of discussion at a number of meetings of a group established under the provisions of the Haddington Road agreement in order to progress measures to retain graduates of Irish medical schools in the Irish public health system.
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