Consultant pay cuts hampering recruitment - report

Health service working group urges Government to look at salary for new senior doctors

The report on hospital consultant pay was , drawn up by a working group appointed by the Minister for Health James Reilly, and has urged the Government to look again at pay levels for newly-appointed doctors.  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

The report on hospital consultant pay was , drawn up by a working group appointed by the Minister for Health James Reilly, and has urged the Government to look again at pay levels for newly-appointed doctors. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 23:03

A new official report has found that cuts to the pay of newly-appointed hospital consultants and lack of recognition in pay scales of previously-obtained experience are hampering attempts to recruit and retain senior doctors in the health service.

The report, drawn up by a working group appointed by the Minister for Health James Reilly, has urged the Government to look again at pay levels for newly-appointed hospital consultants.

In 2012 the Government introduced cuts of 30 per cent in pay rates for newly-appointed specialist doctors in the health service.

The new report on medical training and career structures which was given to the Minister this week and to be published later today recommended that new talks on the pay issue take place.

“The Working Group recommends that the relevant parties commence, as a matter of urgency, a focused, timetabled industrial relations engagement of short duration to address the barrier caused by the variation in rates of remuneration between new entrant Consultants and their established peers that have emerged since 2012.”

The report also urges that the relevant parties “explore options, within existing contractual arrangements, to advance a more differentiated consultant career structure i.e. clinical service provision, clinical leadership and management, clinical research, academic, quality improvement and other roles”.

In its report the working group also highlighted a number of current matters which, it said, if unaddressed would “continue to impact adversely on the recruitment and retention of consultants to clinical service delivery and other roles in the public health system”.

It said these included:

• Variations in the rates of remuneration between new entrant consultants and their established peers that have emerged since 2012;

• Lack of recognition in starting salary of relevant post-completion of specialist training experience (gained in Ireland or elsewhere) at time of appointment to a consultant post;

• Limited opportunities for flexible working at consultant level – both in terms of flexibility within the consultant’s work commitment (e.g. research, training, quality improvement etc.) and in terms of family-friendly flexible working;

• Limited infrastructural and human capital support for newly appointed consultants, including inadequate resourcing of the clinical service delivery role in terms of allocation of available theatre time and out-patient clinics, and the deployment of related resources;

• Unattractiveness of the working environment in some (smaller) Level 2 and Level 3 hospitals particularly with regard to unscheduled care;

• Lack of clarity for trainees around the planned availability (by specialty and location).

The group also said in its report that it wanted to note concerns raised by trainees “in relation to the culture of the health service and the need to develop a culture of mutual respect and constructive partnership”.