The other side of the consultant’s coin…

The Bitter Pill is written, so we are told, by a junior doctor in the Republic’s Health Service (H/T Cian’s blog round up). S/he takes the IMO’s recent objections to Mary Harney’s proposed contract to task, one by one. The crunchiest point is probably number 2:

In Ireland we should be looking to move towards a comprehensive, round the clock health service. Consultants have no right to complain about a shift system or being asked to work weekends. A forty hour work week is fair and necessary. I don’t see how consultants can complain about being made to work five days a week. Junior doctors already work excess of 60 – 100 hours per week. They also work weekends. Nurses too work on a shift system and that includes weekend work.

Whether the rate of pay should vary depending on the hours being at night or over a weekend is a separate issue and needs lengthy debate. But the reality of a shift system cannot be avoided and consultants are going to have to give up the cushy atmosphere they currently enjoy. However, a shift system can only work if the government employs enough doctors to cover the required work. Fair rostering of a forty hour week will then ensure that no doctor is working every other weekend.

The conclusion:

compromise is needed on both sides, but right now it looks like neither is interested. The government seem to want more to appear to be tough on consultants than to solve any problems. Consultants don’t want to take a reduction in pay and will happily hide behind the other issues as long as the government refuses to negotiate and allows them to. Either way things remain unchanged. What then I ask, is the point of so called tough/bold policies if nothing changes for the end user?

Business, no doubt, will be resumed after the election. But on who’s terms?