Talks adjourned in junior doctors row

Talks aimed at averting further strikes by junior doctors over excessively long shifts will resume in Dublin this morning.

Talks adjourned in junior doctors row

The Irish Medical Organisation and HSE adjourned discussions at the Labour Relations Commission just before 8pm last night.

Earlier, the IMO had said it only suspended the industrial action to allow the LRC talks to take place.

It said it was up to the health authority to avoid an escalation of the dispute.

The IMO was invited by the LRC to attend talks after around 3,000 junior doctors held a one-day strike at 51 hospitals on Tuesday.

According to the IMO, the invitation followed a letter from the HSE that accepted financial sanctions were needed to prevent excessive working hours.

At a meeting of the IMO’s non-consultant hospital doctors’ committee yesterday morning it was agreed that representatives would attend talks in order to hear the views of the HSE.

The IMO’s head of industrial relations, Steve Tweed, warned: “Industrial action is not off the table.”

Junior doctors say they are regularly forced to work 24 hours or more at a time.

HSE director of human resources, Barry O’Brien, had been hopeful a solution could be found that would bring certainty and stability to the health service and remove the risk of further industrial action.

However, he had ruled out any sanctions that would involve additional payments to doctors, saying such payments were precluded under existing industrial relations agreements.

“Clearly, we have recognised pay rates for all the hours doctors work and I repeatedly said that consistent with Haddington Road and consistent with our existing agreements, there isn’t any further scope to make additional payments to doctors for working these hours,” he said in advance of the talks.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly said around 7,400 patients had been affected by the strike and those who had procedures deferred would be offered the earliest possible re-attendance dates.

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