Making medical specialists cough up
Irish consultants are well paid by international standards, various reports seem to show. In Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), for example, consultants earn a basic salary of €85,569-€115,335 depending on experience, as well as clinical excellence awards which can range from just under €3,445 up to €87,048.
A 2010 report found that Irish consultants earn six times the average wage, compared with 2.5 times in Denmark and Finland, and this was before private fees were considered.
Last year, an OECD report said consultant pay in Ireland was by far the highest of the 20 countries surveyed. This was based on 2008 data, and salaries have been cut since, but it’s no secret that this report is dog-eared from reading by troika officials overseeing our bailout.
However, Pat Plunkett, writing in The Irish Times, argues that consultants here are not paid excessively compared with the “real pay” of specialists in other countries. He points out that the NHS has a longer incremental pay scale, the top of which is better than in Ireland.
The Irish Medical Organisation also points out that Irish doctors, for obvious linguistic reasons, tend to emigrate to other English-language countries rather than the EU. It argues, therefore, that comparisons of pay within the EU are of little use, when the main financial lures for highly qualified consultants lie outside Europe.
Little enough is known about consultants’ private earnings but it was alleged last year that one specialist received €1 million in fees from the VHI and that 138 others received more than €300,000 each.
Last week it emerged that 1,800 consultants shared €386 million in fees for treating privately insured hospital patients in the year to the end of June.
This averages out at more than €214,000 per consultant.
The sum, which was given by Dr James Reilly, Minister for Health, in answer to a Dáil question, includes only what consultants receive for treating patients admitted to hospital and does not cover the fees for outpatient clinics and private rooms. This was the first time all three health insurance companies have disclosed the sum they pay to hospital consultants.
The programme for government advocates a cut in consultants’ salaries but Dr Reilly changed tack some time ago in favour of extracting longer hours and greater flexibility. The group who will pay the highest price are new recruits, whose starting salaries is now likely to be cut by about €50,000 to €116,000.
in fees for treating privately insured hospital patients in the year to the end of June.
This averages out at more than
per consultant. And that’s on top of their public salaries