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Adams calls on government to comply with EU working directive for junior doctors

8 October, 2013 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, speaking in the Dáil today during Leaders Questions, called on the Taoiseach to instruct the Minister for Health to get directly involved in today’s strike by hospital junior doctors; to insist that binding sanctions are put in place to ensure that hospitals abide by the working directive; and to move speedily to ensuring that the government is fully compliant with the EU working directive.

Gerry Adams said: “The government is in breach of the EU’s Working Time Directive. It is not alone in this. Micheál Martin was in breach of this EU law when he was Minister for Health, as was Mary Harney.

“This directive stipulates that junior doctors must not work more than 48 hours per week on average. It also requires junior doctors to have a minimum of 11 hours rest between shifts.

"Instead some work as many as 90 hours in a week.

“This is not just bad for doctors. Today 12,000 outpatient appointments and 3,000 operations have been cancelled as a result of the strike by junior doctors. It puts patient safety at risk.

“This is not a new EU directive. It has been in place since 2000. In 2009 the European Union criticised the Fianna Fáil Government and in 2011 it criticised your government for your failure to implement this law. Micheál Martin as Minister for Health did nothing. Mary Harney as Minister for Health did nothing.

“No doctor wants to put patient’s well-being at risk. But the failure of the government to address this issue is doing this.

“The concern by junior doctors that some hospitals will not abide by the working directive and that the government is not to be trusted on this issue is understandable The Minister for Health has a track record of breaking government commitments.

“Minister Reilly promised to abolish prescription charges for medical card holders when in opposition only to increase them when in office.

“He has failed to deliver the Programme for Government commitments on free GP care for people on the long term illness scheme or to reduce hospital waiting lists.

“There is an onus on the government to intervene and ensure that junior doctors work safe hours and that patient’s get the treatment they deserve.”

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