Health service looks to extend working hours

The Irish Times has reported that health service unions are willing to discuss moves by health service management to introduce an extended working day for staff to run from 8am to 8pm.

Grades that would be affected by the proposed reforms include personnel in dental, nursing, health and social care, craft and clerical and administrative areas, as well as non-consultant hospital doctors and medical staff employed in public health or community health settings.

In the document circulated on Thursday 31 January, health service management indicated that it wanted to move away from the traditional working day of 9am to 5pm. It stated that there was provision in the national agreement, Towards 2016, for the introduction of an extended working day in the health sector and that ‘in certain situations attendance patterns do not reflect value for money, nor indeed are they reflective of a service which operates on a 24/7 basis.

‘Management is now seeking agreement to conduct a review of service delivery arrangements with a view to eliminating inefficient attendance arrangements and implementing attendance patterns which will assist improved operational performance and service provision.’

It is understood that in response to the management proposals, the unions said that a nine-month timeframe was a realistic target for the conclusion of negotiations on this issue.

It is expected that management and the overall group of health sector unions will meet in April 2008 to consider the extended day issue.

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