Non-consultant hospital doctors are threatening industrial action if negotiations to reinstate their 'living-out allowance' fail.

The council of the Irish Medical Organisation, which represents 3,000 non-consultant hospital doctors, met today and unanimously agreed to support NCHDs.

Junior doctors were entitled to a weekly living-out allowance of €61 if a hospital did not provide free accommodation but the allowance was abolished in 2012.

Negotiations are due to begin on Tuesday following High Court action by the IMO last month.

In a statement the IMO said: "While negotiations on these matters are due to commence next week, IMO council fully support their colleagues in taking industrial action, up to and including strike action, to resolve matters should the negotiations not yield an adequate response from Government."

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President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr John Duddy, said: "The pay policy of this Government in relation to members of the medical profession has led directly to the inability of our health services to retain or recruit doctors."

He said: "We already have too few doctors in this country to deliver adequate services to patients yet Government have consistently ignored the fact that if you breach contracts and deliberately create a policy that disrespects and devalues doctors they will simply choose to work for countries that value them and allow them to do the work for which they have trained."

"Doctors do not want to take industrial action but will be forced to do so by a Government that refuses to acknowledge or deal with the problem," added Dr Duddy.