Doctors at University Hospital Limerick call off strike as unrostered overtime paid

Fintan Walsh

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Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

IMO calls off mandate for strike action at UHL after payments made

IMO calls off mandate for strike action at UHL after payments made

THE IRISH Medical Organisation has said monies “should never have been witheld” from doctors at University Hospital Limerick working in an “outstretched service”. 

This follows the union’s official withdrawal of strike action after unrostered overtime was paid to non-consultant hospital doctors and interns at the end of last month.

The lengthy dispute between doctors and management led to a ballot, on February 6, overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action if payment was not made by February 22.

It was the second time in two years that NCHDs voted in favour of strike action at UHL over the issue that has been on the union’s radar for three years. On both occasions, action was averted.

“[It] became a serious dispute last year when NCHDs at the hospital were told that any overtime hours which were required for patient care but had not been rostered and authorised in advance would not be paid. 

“Following the advice of the IMO the doctors kept records of all overtime worked and, following an agreement worked out between the IMO and the hospital, these records were then used to claim for all unpaid overtime in January of this year,” an IMO spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson added: “To ensure that this annual standoff can be avoided in the future, the IMO now seeks meaningful engagement on rostering and service demand with the hospital.”

The chairperson of the union’s NCHD committee, Dr Paddy Hillery stated that the monies “should never have been withheld from doctors who are doing their best to provide patient care in an overstretched service.

“There is a lot of talk about the recruitment and retention crisis affecting Doctors in the public health service, and is it any wonder why we struggle to attract doctors and then struggle to retain them when this is the treatment that they receive?  While payment is welcome, if overdue, we will continue to keep our focus on University Hospital Limerick to ensure that this issue does not recur later in the year,” the chairperson concluded. 

Before the February 6 ballot, the UL Hospitals Group said that it “rejects any assertion that unrostered overtime claims, once the agreed process has been followed, are not being honoured”.

Since the ballot, it has yet to respond to numerous requests from the Leader for comment on the matter.