Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called on Minister James Reilly to take a hands-on role in the dispute between the Irish Medical Organisation and the HSE over the working hours of junior doctors.

Deputy Kelleher said: “The scale by which junior doctors have voted for industrial action is not surprising given that they have seen no progress with the HSE and are being ignored by the Minister for Health.  It is a disgrace that an already strained hospital system would now be faced with industrial action and Minister Reilly is doing nothing about it.  There is a clear need for the Minister to show leadership on this issue and ensure junior doctors are working in a safe environment.

“Junior doctors are going beyond the call of duty to support patients and each other in our hospitals every day.  It is not right that they would be left to work dangerously unsafe hours, putting their own health risk.  Aside from the physical impact of the hours junior doctors are working there is an enormous mental strain that does not get enough attention in this debate.  The health system needs to support the people who work in it instead of punishing them for it.

“The HSE and the IMO will meet this week following the result of the ballot of IMO members.  It is incumbent upon Minister Reilly to take an active role in this matter and ensure a resolution can be found that does not lead to disruption for patients.

“This dispute is just another example of Minister Reilly’s fiasco-riddled tenure at the Department of Health.  He has proven himself incapable of managing his budget and now he is alienating the very people working to keep the health service functioning every day.”