INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ST MICHAEL'S HOSPITAL - DUN LAOGHAIRE
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Closure of Accident & Emergency Department after 8pm - impact on radiographers.
2. A review of Accident & Emergency services in south Dublin was carried out in 2002. Following this review a decision was taken to close St Michael's Hospital Accident & Emergency Department after 8pm each night.
The closure led to an increased attendance at the Accident & Emergency Department between the hours of 5pm and 8pm. This resulted in the need for increased on-call services to be provided by radiographers during these hours. Payment was by way of an on-call/ fee per patient system.
The Union, on behalf of the radiographers, sought the introduction of sessional payments to replace the system of the on-call/ fee per patient system. The Union maintained that the radiographers had suffered a loss of earnings in respect of the call-in fees.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 11th of September, 2003, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 16th of December, 2003, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. Prior to the curtailment of the Accident & Emergency service at St Michael's Hospital the radiographers provided Accident & Emergency cover on a 24 hour basis, 7 days a week along with in-house patient cover.
2. The financial effect of the 8pm closure has resulted in a drop in on-call income of
about one third.
3. A session payment system is provided for within the existing pay structures. It would guarantee payment to the radiographer for being in the hospital as opposed to the present on-call / fee per patient system which is dependent on how many patients come in.
4. 1. The number of patients arriving at the A & E Department between the hours of 5pm to 8pm has increased as a result of the curtailed hours and this has resulted in an increased on-call requirement between these times.
2. There is a significant amount of on-call work available and the breakdown of figures for the year do not show a substantial gap in earnings year on year.
3. On-call earnings by their very nature are variable and there is no guarantee of earnings as a result of on-call work. Therefore no loss of income claim should arise from the reduction of this variable requirement.
The Court has considered the submissions of both parties to the Union's claim concerning the impact on radiographers following the closure of the A & E Department of the Hospital after 8pm. The Court does not recommend the introduction of sessional payments to replace the existing system of on call/ fee per patient, as originally claimed by the Trade Union.
Rather, the Court sees merit in recommending that the parties commence negotiation to address the issues of perceived loss of earnings as a result of the restructuring of the hospital. In the event of failure to reach agreement the parties may refer any outstanding issues back to the Court.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th March, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.