By Dara Gantly.
The IMO has informed the HSE that there cannot be any further delays in implementing the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) for NCHDs.
The issue of compliance with the EWTD was one of the main issues raised by the IMO at a recent meeting with HSE HR Director Seán McGrath, at which the union pressed home the urgency of bringing in a 48-hour week for NCHDs.
IMO Director of IR Steve Tweed told Irish Medical Times that while the HSE was awaiting confirmation from the European Commission on whether it would receive additional time to meet the requirements on working hours and rest periods, the Executive seemed to be planning on the basis that the extension would be forthcoming.
“Either way the Directive is not going to be implemented fully,” commented Tweed. “Our view is that it needs to be implemented sooner rather than later, and further delay is unacceptable.”
The Commission has received a response from the Irish Government, setting out a time frame for achieving EWTD compliance over the next three years. The EC is considering the 27-page document carefully before making any decision on the next steps to take.
A reasoned opinion from Brussels last September referred to a serious infringement of the EWTD where Irish NCHDs were regularly obliged to work continuous 36-hour shifts, to work more than 100 hours in a single week and 70-75 hours per week on average.