IMO warns on consultant pay cuts

Wed, Jan 2, 2013, 00:00

The Irish Medical Organisation has warned the Government that unless it agrees to talks on recently introduced pay cuts of 30 per cent for new hospital consultants it will have to seek redress “through alternative avenues”.

In a letter to Health Service Executive management sent just before Christmas, IMO director of industrial relations Steve Tweed said there should be a meeting between the union, health service management, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the cuts.

He said the IMO had offered to meet Minister for Health James Reilly on at least three occasions to seek a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the pay reductions but none of the invitations had been accepted.

Unilateral reduction

In September the Government decided unilaterally to reduce pay rates for newly appointed consultants by 30 per cent. This meant pay scales for consultants with a type A (public only) contract appointed from the beginning of October would start at €116,207 compared with €166,000 at the start of 2011.

Starting pay rates for consultants with type B contacts, which allow for limited private practice rights, fell to €109,381 from €156,258.

Pay rates for the highest paid doctors, academic consultants with a type A contract, fell from €231,653 to just under €146,000.

Permanent posts

Mr Tweed said that while the Government had initially announced that the cuts would apply only to new entrants, it had became apparent later they would be put in place for current consultants in certain circumstances when in a permanent post, and in all circumstances if they held or previously held a position of locum or temporary consultant.

He said the IMO contended that the pay cut in relation to current consultants, including those holding or who had previously held temporary or locum contracts, was in breach of the Croke Park agreement.

“To argue otherwise is fanciful and accordingly the decision should be reversed as a matter of urgency.”

He said the salary reductions would generate savings of about €1.5 million after taxation and other revenue losses in the economy were taken into account.