Consultants hired in future to be paid 'substantially' less
THE GOVERNMENT has said it intends to appoint hospital consultants in the future on “substantially” lower pay rates.
In a document tabled at talks at the Labour Relations Commission, health service management proposed that there would be “no differentiation between future appointees and existing consultants in terms of title, status or scope of practice”.
The talks were continuing in Dublin late last night.
Management said the fundamental features – other than salary – of the existing consultant contract, which was drawn up in 2008, would apply to new senior doctors recruited in future.
However, management said some technical changes could be required.
The document drawn up by health service management did not specify the rate of pay to apply to new consultants.
At present, hospital consultants’ salaries range from €147,000 to about €200,000.
Health service management also proposed significant reductions in the amount of “historical leave” arising from rest days that doctors could not take in the past. Management suggested that historical leave could be reduced by half. Under this arrangement, up to 450 consultants are entitled to take their last year off on full pay in lieu of overtime incurred in previous years.
Some consultants act as their own locum for that year. This means some senior doctors continue to do the same work but receive effectively double salary for that year.
The document estimated that, based on an average cost of employing one consultant at €230,000, historical leave could cost the state €103.5 million up to 2027, when the last group of eligible consultants is due to retire.
Management proposed that the existing entitlement be halved, and that it be used before the end of 2018.
Informed sources said there had been progress in the talks over the weekend on issues such as rosters and increased presence of consultants in hospitals.
However, sources said difficulties remained over plans for the new consultant grade and on the issue of historic rest days.
The Minister for Health, James Reilly,set a deadline of last night for the conclusion of the talks.
The Minister has said anything that was not agreed by last night at the Labour Relations Commission would be referred to the Labour Court for a binding ruling under the provisions of the Croke Park agreement.
Meanwhile, the union representing university teachers has accused the Government of adopting a “highly selective and inconsistent” policy in relation to the enforcement of resolutions to disputes.
The general secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers, Mike Jennings, said yesterday that Trinity College Dublin had for the past five months been refusing to implement a binding Labour Court decision.
He said TCD should now be required to attend the LRC in a fashion similar to that in which the Department of Health insisted hospital consultants attend the talks this weekend.
“During the past five months, Trinity has not only refused to implement a binding Labour Court recommendation, [it has] spurned four separate requests from the LRC to attend conciliation on four separate disputes, yet the Department of Education has not sought to require to have the college attend,” said Mr Jennings.
“It is perfectly reasonable that a prominent public sector employer like TCD should be required to abide by commitments entered into on its behalf by government, a commitment recently reiterated by both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste,” he added.