Consultants’ pay could reach €175,000 under new Government proposals

Higher payments would come from mix of staged rises and long-term increments

 Irish Nurses and Midwives general secretary Liam Doran:  said the Government should also use talks with his union that are currently under way in the Labour Relations Commission to set out its proposals to reverse cuts imposed in the pay structure for nurses over recent years.   Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Irish Nurses and Midwives general secretary Liam Doran: said the Government should also use talks with his union that are currently under way in the Labour Relations Commission to set out its proposals to reverse cuts imposed in the pay structure for nurses over recent years. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 01:02

Hospital consultants working exclusively in the public service would see their salaries increase from €116,000 to €175,000 in stages over a period of about 10 years, under Government pay proposals. The higher payments would come from a combination of staged rises and from long-term increments.

In addition, after five years in service, consultants would be eligible to apply for medical management or clinical leadership posts, which would also attract a premium payment. The Irish Times reported on Saturday that the Government was preparing to partially reverse salary cuts imposed on hospital consultants two years ago. The move followed concerns among senior health service management that there was a growing difficulty recruiting and retaining senior doctors in hospitals.

It is understood that the Government tabled pay proposals to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), which represents consultants, at a meeting at the Labour Relations Commission last Thursday. The Irish Times understands that the proposals would involve consultants working exclusively in the public system, with no private practice, starting on a salary of €116,000 and moving initially to €127,000 and ultimately to €145,000 over five to six years. It is proposed that the payment of long-term increments to consultants would bring the salary scale up to €175,000 over about 10 years.

In October 2012 the then minister for health James Reilly reduced pay for newly appointed consultants by 30 per cent, a move medical organisations claimed led to a brain drain among doctors and left the health service unable to fill a number of key medical posts.

It is also understood that under its new proposals, the Government has been considering “some element of retrospection” for consultants appointed under the lower salary rates on offer since 2012. The full details of such a move is not yet known.

However, senior Coalition sources have insisted that the proposals represent a revision of existing pay rates and that they do not involve the first public service pay rise in an improving economy. Other public service trade union leaders have already indicated to the Government that they would also be seeking movement to reverse pay cuts on their members.

Last night general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Liam Doran said young nurse graduates were also leaving due to uncompetitive wage rates compared with other English-speaking countries. He said in dealing with consultants, the Government was only righting a wrong that it had introduced in 2012 when it cut pay levels.

Mr Doran said the Government should also use talks with his union that are currently under way in the Labour Relations Commission to set out its proposals to reverse cuts imposed in the pay structure for nurses over recent years. He said pay of nurse graduates had been reduced by 35 per cent over recent years. The INMO wants the Government to scrap a graduate intern scheme under which 1,000 posts are available for two years at between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of the full staff nurse rate.

Across the wider public service, union leaders have signalled that they may lodge pay claims next year – in advance of the official expiry of the Haddington Road agreement in July 2016 – if the economy continues to improve.