Silence from Department of Health as public health doctors prepare for strike 

Silence from Department of Health as public health doctors prepare for strike 

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. It is understood nobody from his department has contacted the IMO to try to avert the strike. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has had no contact from the Department of Health in relation to a planned public health doctors' strike in January.

The country’s 91 specialists of public health medicine are taking strike action in January as part of their 17-year battle for consultant status and contracts.

The IMO’s public health committee served notice of industrial action on the HSE and the Department of Health in November.

Strike action will commence on January 14, followed by a two-day strike on January 21 and 22.

Since then, it is understood that nobody from the Department of Health has contacted the IMO specifically to try and resolve matters and to avert the strike.

There has, however, been communication between the IMO and the HSE about what cover and other contingencies will be provided on strike days.

Dr Ina Kelly, chair of the Public Health Committee of the IMO, said: “As doctors, who have committed our careers to public health in Ireland, we are frustrated and disappointed at the lack of progress by the department and the fact that they have effectively forced us into this position.” 

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The minister and the department are fully committed to resolving this dispute and avoiding disruption to our vital public health services in January.

“The department is fully committed to substantive engagement with the public health doctors and their representative body, with the objective of resolving core issues.”

 “The HSE, as the employer, is engaging directly with the IMO at present, with the focus on agreeing arrangements around the provision of contingency cover during the strike days.” 

Consultant status and contracts were part of a pay and productivity agreement in 2019, which was due to be fully implemented by July 2020.

Much of the increased productivity aspect of the agreement was fast-tracked due to the Covid-19 crisis, but the extra pay and new contracts have not materialised.

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