HSE, consultants clash on plans
The HSE has said it hopes the outcome of a Labour Court hearing will enable the implementation of a collapsed deal between the Government and hospital consultants by November 5th.
Last night, the HSE's director of human resources, Barry O’Brien, said management failed to secure the co-operation of the Irish Hospital Consultants' Association (IHCA) and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) with its plans to implement work practice reforms.
Asked today if he was disappointed that the Government was now going to have to go to the Labour Court on the issue of pay for hospital consultants, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said: “Yes I am, I’m very disappointed.
“It’s incumbent on everybody to embrace the change agenda, that’s what I’ve said, and particularly those who are actually among the best-paid in the country to understand what needs to be done.
“We worked out an agreement needs to be implemented without further delay. We need the changed practices to have a much more efficient hospital service but we also need the money,” the Minister said.
In a statement this afternoon, the IHCA said it appeared the HSE is being "most unhelpful" by now referring the proposals to the Labour Court for a recommendation "where no disagreement has yet been identified on the proposals".
"This is most regrettable and cannot be in the best interests of patients or taxpayers," the statement said, adding the health body "appears intent on jeopardising that good work with its current approach to reform".
Speaking this morning on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland he said: “The biggest issue arose yesterday with the IHCA. While they confirmed they were recommending the proposals to their members, they said they could not be party to collective agreement and were carrying out a survey.”
Mr O’Brien added: “You can’t be in favour of something, recommend it to your members and then tell your employer that you’re going to have a survey.”
He said the issue will now be brought to the Labour Court and is hopeful it will deliver a binding outcome before the original November 5th target date for implementation.
The IMO said the HSE was “not in a position to implement anything” on November 5th.
Steve Tweed, the IMO’s director of industrial relations, said the organisation received a letter from the Labour Relations Commission requesting the IMO consult its members over the proposals. If they were accepted, he said, they were to be recommended for implementation.
Mr Tweed told Morning Ireland two issues from LRC process were referred to the Labour Court for binding recommendation: payment to psychiatric consultants and rest days.
“Whenever the Labour Court makes that decision then our members will have the totality of the proposals in front of them to make an informed decision”.
He said the HSE could not say what on November 5th “would require the co-operation of our members pending the outcome of the Labour Court”.
Mr Tweed also said the HSE could not confirm whether it had started preliminary consultation work with local health managers on the proposed reforms.