Negotiations on hospital consultants’ deal break down

IMO had concerns over elements of package which were performance related

Under the proposals consultants would also have scope for receiving higher salaries for taking on more senior posts as heads of departments or clinical directors. Photograph: Getty Images

Under the proposals consultants would also have scope for receiving higher salaries for taking on more senior posts as heads of departments or clinical directors. Photograph: Getty Images

Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 07:14

Talks between the Government and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on a new pay and career structure deal for new hospital consultants have broken down.

Proposals drawn up as part of the talks would have seen pay for newly-appointed consultants working exclusively in the public hospital system increase from a scale of €116,000 - €121,000 at present to between €127,000 and €175,000 over time.

The proposals drawn up by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) would have allowed some new consultants with experience to be appointed at an entry level of €155,000.

Under the proposals consultants would also have scope for receiving higher salaries for taking on more senior posts as heads of departments or clinical directors.

The IMO said last night that the talks with health service management, which had been underway for several week following the recent McCraith report on pay and career structures for consultants, had broken down.

It is understood that the IMO had concerns about proposed performance reviews and that proposed incremental pay increases set out under the new pay scale would be performance -related.

Another medical organisation representing senior doctors, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, was not involved in the talks as it had not signed up to the Haddington Road agreement.

A spokesman for the IMO said the HSE was not serious in tackling the real crisis in recruiting and retaining hospital consultants.

The HSE has acknowledged difficulties in filling a number of senior medical posts in hospitals over the last year or so.

In autumn 2012, the Government unilaterally reduced the pay of new hospital consultants by 30 per cent, a move which medical organisations maintained led to a brain drain of young doctors and resulted in senior posts in Ireland being less attractive than those in other English-speaking countries.

Proposals

Some highly-placed sources said the new pay proposals would have represented a 98 per cent restoration of the original pay rates for new hospital consultants.

The proposals envisaged that the revised rates would have come into effect from the beginning of September.

Following the cuts introduced in 2012, the starting salary for a newly-appointed consultant was set at €116,000.

Under the new proposals the entry point salary for a new consultant would be set at €127,000.

This would rise in a six-point scale to €155,000.

Subsequently after three years a performance and experience-related increment would bring this salary to €165,000 while after 3 further years a second performance-related increment would see the pay rate rise to €175,000.

The proposals also provide for some consultants with previous experience being appointed on an entry rate of €155,000, 6th point on the scale.

The LRC proposals also allow for consultants with five years experience to apply for posts as head of departments in hospitals.

A three-point scale would apply for these positions, starting at €170,000 and running to €180,000.

Posts of clinical directors in public hospitals would attract a salary of €190,000, under the new proposals.

It is understood that under the proposals consultants with limited private practice rights in public hospitals would receive basis salaries of between €120,000 and €140,000.

The proposals say that doctors with relevant experience and qualifications should be permitted to avail of an incremental credit arrangement, which would see them being appointed at up to the 6th point on the revised pay scale.

The LRC recommended that the HSE’s Medical Education and Training Unit “be tasked - following consultation with the postgraduate medical training bodies and other relevant parties - with setting a framework for the application of incremental credit which takes account of relevant and appropriate service post-certification of satisfactory completion of specialist training”.

“Management will consult with the IMO in identifying the appropriate qualifications and relevant experience which may be applied in determining incremental credit when making appointments. These criteria should be available to potential applicants and prior to advertisement of Consultant posts.”

The proposals state that consultants who were appointed since October 2012 when the 30 per cent pay cut was imposed, should “be placed on the appropriate point of the pay scales set out above taking account of the duration of all relevant employment as a consultant to date”.

It says this should take effect from 1st September 2014. However there would be no retrospective payments or backoney.

The LRC document says that a number of issues had emerged relating to the need for consultants to meet defined performance targets - signed off by senior clinical managers and hospital chiefs following consultation with the consultant - prior to becoming eligible for pay progression.