Belfast Telegraph

Doctors serve notice over strike

Doctors have served formal notice of a day-long strike over what they have branded dangerous working hours.

Around 1,000 non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHD) will strike on September 25, and have threatened further action at a different hospital every week from then if the Health Service Executive (HSE) fails to meet their demands.

John Donnellan, chairman of the NCHD Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), urged the HSE to produce serious proposals to reduce the working week.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision for doctors to make and we would not be in this position were it not for the inaction and prevarication of the Department of Health and the HSE," Dr Donnellan said.

"Even now, the minister for health could resolve this issue by directing his colleagues to tackle this issue once and for all."

The formal strike notice was submitted following a special meeting of the Council of the IMO, when it unanimously passed a motion to support strike action to force the HSE to deal with the dispute.

A special motion was also passed to express "grave concern at the inaction of the HSE in the face of illegal and dangerously long working hours which has a detrimental effect on doctors and patients alike".

The doctors have called for an immediate end to shifts exceeding 24 hours.

They have also demanded the Government implements the European Working Time Directive, which states employees should work no more than an average 48 hours per week, by the end of 2014.

A landslide 97% of 1,000 NCHDs yesterday voted in favour of the strike action.

The IMO has claimed that some hospital doctors are being forced to work up to 100 hours a week.

Doctors have committed to providing emergency cover during any strikes or work stoppages.

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