Accord with consultants will lead to savings of €200 million, says Reilly
THE GOVERNMENT’S new agreement with hospital consultants will deliver savings worth €200 million, Minister for Health James Reilly has said.
Speaking yesterday he said the main value from the deal came as a result of increased flexibilities which could now be achieved in the way consultants were rostered in hospitals. Dr Reilly said consultants would now be rostered on duty every day and on a round-the-clock basis in some specialties.
He said this would result in a huge reduction in the amount currently paid out in overtime and premium payments for doctors.
He also said it would mean that there would be a need for fewer non-consultant hospital doctors on duty at night time. Dr Reilly said that with more senior clinicians on duty it was likely that fewer tests would be sought.
The new flexibilities would lead to a better and more efficient use of hospital beds, he added.
He maintained patients would be discharged from hospitals on a seven-day basis and this would lead to a shorter length of stay in hospitals.
The Minister said that in the past year voluntary work-practice changes introduced by some consultants had generated savings of €63 million. He said 70,000 bed days were saved, with each bed day costing €900.
The new deal would formalise such flexibilities and work practice changes and would lead to a major increase in the savings that could be achieved, he said.
Dr Reilly also said the new lower salary scale would allow for the appointment of more hospital consultants.
He has rejected suggestions that the lower salaries on offer would act as a disincentive to consultants taking up posts in Ireland.
Health service management would be looking for other healthcare professionals to match the flexibilities that had been achieved on the part of consultants, he said.
Dr Reilly said the problem with the contract for hospital consultants negotiated by his predecessor Mary Harney in 2008 was that it was “high on aspiration but did not deliver on the ground”.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher called on Dr Reilly to come forward and explain what had actually been achieved in the “breakthrough” in the talks with hospital consultants.
“I’m puzzled – how do the flexible working arrangements differ from the consultants’ contract agreed in 2008? How does the policy on new pay rates for new consultants differ from what was agreed in the Croke Park agreement?”