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Junior doctors working hours ‘symptom of a broken system’ – Cullinane

19 March, 2015 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has expressed his concern at a European Court of Justice (ECJ) finding today that holds Ireland accountable for serious lapses in the working rights of junior doctors. While the Advocate General’s opinion is not a ruling, unless Ireland changes tack on the issue soon, the government risks bringing financial punitive measures upon the country.

Senator Cullinane said:

“The government has known for some time that the ECJ was very concerned about the manner in which the HSE treated junior doctors working hours. By excluding hours deemed ‘training’ from counted hours; junior doctors regularly work 36 hour shifts and often in excess of 100 hours a week. This is strictly against their rights as workers and undoubtedly puts patients’ lives at risk.”

“The government must now seriously reconsider how doctors are trained. Adequate training for doctors is of course a top priority but not in such a way that risks the health and safety of junior doctors or those in their care. In the light of the current crisis of overcrowding, we must not be tempted to ask more of junior doctors who are already stretched to the breaking point. The ECJ will issue a ruling before the year end and this must be the onus on us to fix a broken system.” 

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