Harney Gets ‘No Confidence’ From Consultants

A meeting of 450 consultants passed a motion of no confidence against Minister for Health Mary Harney and agreed to ballot members on a campaign of action. The Irish Hospital Consultants Association action would include a ban on meetings with top Health Service managers and a withdrawal from some administrative duties.

The association’s general meeting was held to discuss member’s response to the government’s decision to advertise for new consultant posts on terms not agreed with doctors.

450 consultants attended the meeting. Doctors at the meeting voted not to return to talks on a new contract until a guarantee was given that the appointments would be made on agreed terms.

President of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, Dr Mary McCaffrey, has said the fact that consultants were holding a second emergency general meeting in four months reflected a crisis in the health system. The IHCA walked out of talks with employers last week because of the development.

Now Dr McCaffrey has accused Minister Harney and the Health Service Executive of steadily dismantling the health system. Minister Harney described today’s IHCA reaction as counter-productive and said their decision to boycott the new posts would baffle the public who would wonder how patient interests could be served by the action.

She said the decision to begin the process of hiring new consultants on new terms was a government decision to improve services to patients. Meanwhile, there are indications that the National Implementation Body (NIB) will move early this week to intervene in the nurses’ dispute.

Ms Harney has said the body has been making informal contacts over the weekend with the parties involved in the dispute in order to decide whether fresh talks would be helpful.

However, she said the dispute over pay and conditions can be solved only through existing processes and within the parameters of the Government’s pay policy.

Hospitals around the country are now facing into a fourth week of the nurses’ work-to-rule, as they pursue their campaign for a 35-hr week and a 10.6% pay rise.

The nurses’ dispute is due to step up a gear this week with stoppages planned over two days at 52 hospitals.  Nurses are planning the stoppages for short periods on Wednesday and Friday, unless the NIB will intervene and call both sides into talks.

Meanwhile SIPTU, which is not taking part in the industrial action, has again called on all sides to return to talks with the NIB.