Consultants Launch Industrial Action

The Minister for Health, Mary Harney, has said there will be no pause in the recruitment process for hospital consultants, despite today’s limited industrial action.

She said the public would find it hard to understand how consultant organisations would seek to stop recruitment to posts that they have demanded for some time and which are for badly needed patient services in areas such as rheumatology, cystic fibrosis and psychiatry.

93% of the membership of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has already voted in favour of a campaign of action. It includes not taking part in key hospital and national committees and boycotting some administrative duties.

The dispute escalated last month after Ms Harney advertised the posts without consultants’ agreement. The IHCA said the campaign of action would not involve patient care. Donal Duffy, assistant general secretary of the association, said that consultants had ethical obligations to look after patients and these would be met.

Mr Duffy said there was no change from the existing arrangements whereby consultants covered for a locum or temporary consultants in emergency situations.

The campaign of action will be reviewed by the IHCA at an executive meeting next month.