Locum junior doctors to have salaries cut from September

HSE agency employee reforms will also see some consultants receive a pay increase

Locum junior doctors will receive a cut to their salaries as of September 1st. File photograph: Thinkstock

Locum junior doctors will receive a cut to their salaries as of September 1st. File photograph: Thinkstock

 

Locum junior doctors will receive a cut to their salaries as of September 1st, while some locum consultants will see their salaries increase.

The changes are being made because the contracts for agency employees expired in 2015 and the Health Service Executive (HSE) is only now implementing the changes.

“The current agency rates were considerably higher than the rates being paid to direct medical employees of the HSE in accordance with the Department of Health consolidated salary scales,” a spokeswoman for the HSE said.

“The new rates represent a narrowing of this salary differential and were arrived at following detailed consideration of same,” she said.

According to data released to The Irish Times, salaries for locums will drop for doctors with grades ranging from senior house officers (SHOs), or non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs), up to consultants classified as “Consultant Type A”. Consultants classified as “Consultant Type B” will see a salary increase.

New rates

Junior doctors, or SHOs, can currently expect to bill €320 for an eight-hour shift between 9am and 5pm on Monday to Saturday. This will drop to €272, or by 15 per cent, under the new rates.

Some consultant doctors will also see their locum salaries reduced for a daytime shift, albeit by a lesser amount. Consultants classified as “Consultant Type A” are currently paid €760 for an eight-hour shift between 9am and 5pm on Monday through to Saturday. They will see their remuneration drop to €720, or by 5.2 per cent.

“Type B” consultants will see a salary increase for the same shift. Their remuneration goes from €696 to €720, or an increase of 3.5 per cent. The difference between type A and type B consultants is that the former may not engage in private practice while the latter may under certain conditions.

Freelance doctors

Locum doctors, who are essentially freelance doctors, are typically paid by an agency which is ultimately paid by the HSE. The salary they earn per shift is more than that of a contracted or full-time employee.

Asked when all doctors will be informed of the changes, a HSE spokeswoman said “these doctors are not employees of the HSE, they are employed directly by agencies”. The new pay framework will be in operation until September 1st, 2021.

In February, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association said the HSE spent more than €113 million in 2015 on medical agency services.

One current job advertisement on an agency website looking for a consultant gastroenterologist in Cork for 242 days is offering remuneration of more than €173,000.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), a representative body for doctors, said the high level of HSE spend on locum doctors was “indicative of a service that struggles to recruit doctors and then struggles to retain those that it has recruited”.

“The consequence of this is that patients are denied care, or receive care only after they have endured delays. The IMO would urge the Government to tackle the recruitment and retention issues facing the health service as a matter of the utmost urgency,” she said.