The government is committed to achieving compliance with the European Working Time Directive in relation to non-consultant hospital doctors by the end of 2014.
That was part of the response to a Dáil question addressed to the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, by Deputy Nicky McFadden, for written answer at the start of the month.
The deputy’s question in full was: To ask the Minister for Health the progress being made to reduce the number of hours worked by non-consultant hospital doctors in order to ensure compliance with the EU Working Time Directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The minister’s reply was:
“The government is committed to achieving compliance with the European Working Time Directive in relation to non-consultant hospital doctors by the end of 2014. At my request, this year the HSE established a National Group to bring an urgent focus to implementation of the Working Time Directive.
“This group has been working closely with hospitals and there has been progress in relation to a number of interim targets, relating to the number of doctors working more than 24 hours in a single shift and instances of doctors working more than 68 hours a week. I am confident that progress will continue to be made towards the objective of full compliance.
Ireland must have sustainable arrangements to train and develop the medical workforce we need in order to provide safe and effective services to our population. I am therefore committed to retaining doctors who are educated and trained in Ireland within our health service, by providing them with clear career pathways and appropriate working conditions.
“In July this year, I set up a working group chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, president of DCU, to carry out a strategic review of the medical training and career structure of NCHDs with a view to improving retention of graduates in the public health system. In particular, I want the group to set out a clear pathway for training at every level from intern to specialist, and to examine the potential for reducing the length of specialist training.
“I see this as a modernising initiative which is needed urgently. I have asked Professor MacCraith to provide an interim report to me by end-November 2013 and a final report by end-June 2014.”
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