Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has described as "completely unacceptable" issues with working conditions currently being faced by non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs), formerly known as junior doctors.

"We cannot treat people like this. I want to say quite clearly that the current situation is not acceptable and I am committed to fundamental change and reform," Mr Donnelly said in an address to the Annual General Meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation.

"NCHDs should get paid for all hours worked. NCHDs should not have to work unsafe hours. NCHDs should have access to training and be able to take annual and study leave. NCHDs should have access to adequate facilities at work," he said.

"I have written to the HSE asking that they engage with you, and I have been assured that by them that they will work collaboratively with the Irish Medical Organisation to address these issues," he added.

Earlier at its AGM, the IMO backed potential strike action by non-consultant hospital doctors, passing an emergency resolution in support of NCHDs.

It says they are demoralised, frustrated and angry over long-standing concerns about working conditions and safe hours.

NCHDs are currently being balloted for industrial action, up to and including strike action.

The ballot will close on 9 June.

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The IMO is accusing the HSE of systemic and persistent contract breaches by requiring NCHDs to routinely work unsafe and illegal hours.

The union says NCHDs frequently have issues getting paid for hours work and accessing annual leave and study leave.

The emergency resolution passed at today's AGM calls on the Government and the HSE to recognise and address the issues.

"The unsafe and illegal working hours, huge financial burdens and levels of burnout and stress faced by NCHDs will no longer be tolerated," the motion states.

Dr John Cannon, Chairman of the NCHD Committee of the IMO warned that unless there is serious engagement from the HSE and the Government there will be no alternative but to take industrial action.

"We as doctors want to treat and help patients but our current working conditions are actually unsafe for the very patients, we are trying to deliver care to," Dr Cannon said.

"Taking industrial action is not an easy decision and we hope that it does not come to that, but it is entirely in the hands of the HSE and Government," he added.

Other issues being raised at today's meeting of the IMO include waiting lists, recruitment and retention challenges for doctors and contract negotiations for consultants.

Delegates are also discussing gender equality in medicine and the medical response to the conflict in Ukraine.