Monday November 30, 2020

The desperate hours

As a glance at the historical record shows, the exhausting shifts routinely worked by junior doctors in this country are nothing new, writes Susan Mitchell.

Susan Mitchell

Deputy Editor and Health Editor

7th September, 2013
Irish Medical Organisation staff Val Moran, Leah Kenny and Tom Smyth sort out ballet papers after junior doctors voted on whether to take industrial action over working conditions. Photo: Photocall Ireland

As the country braces itself for a wave of industrial action by hospital doctors, the transcripts from Dáil debates held more than a quarter of a century ago make very interesting reading - and show how little things have changed since.

"Astonishing things are expected from non-consultant hospital [junior] doctors: hours of work, hours on call that defy description. People are on call for periods of 80, 90 and 100 hours a week....

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