Hospital consultants to be offered 24% pay rise

Increases would see entry-level salaries rise to maximum €175,000

Proposals for revised pay and career structures are  aimed at changing the hospital system into a “consultant-delivered” service, as distinct from consultants leading teams of non-consultant doctors.

Proposals for revised pay and career structures are aimed at changing the hospital system into a “consultant-delivered” service, as distinct from consultants leading teams of non-consultant doctors.

Sat, Jul 26, 2014, 01:00

The Government is preparing to partially reverse salary cuts imposed on hospital consultants two years ago, which would see their pay increase by as much as almost a quarter from current levels.

The Irish Times has learned that proposals for revised pay and career structures were put forward by the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure, as well as the Health Service Executive, earlier this week.

Coalition sources said the proposals would see the rates rise in the region of 16 per cent and 24 per cent over time and on an incremental basis, but were adamant the move does not represent the first public- sector pay increases since the economic crisis began.

At present, the entry pay level for consultants working exclusively in a public hospital is set at €116,000 but under the new proposals this would increase, over time, to a maximum of €175,000.

Brain drain

In October 2012 the then minister for health James Reilly reduced pay for newly appointed consultants by 30 per cent, a move medical organisations claimed led to a brain drain among doctors and left the health service unable to fill a number of key medical posts.

It followed a programme for government commitment, that said: “Under a new consultant’s contract hospital consultants’ remuneration will be reduced.”

It is understood the general thrust of the new approach has been approved by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

Sources said the potential deal was also discussed at the Cabinet subcommittee on health earlier this week.

Coalition sources last night acknowledged a fear that any new deal could be seen as the first public sector pay rises in a recovering economy.

However, it was claimed by senior figures that this is not the case, and it was stressed the move is in response to an inability to fill current vacancies. Unions across the public service have already signalled that they will lodge a pay claim for their 300,000 members before the scheduled expiry of the Haddington Road deal in 2016 if the economy continues to grow.

“The big fear across Government is that this will be seen as the first of the pay rises but it’s not,” a senior figure said last night. “The Croke Park and Haddington Road cuts will remain.

Unable to fill consultant posts “It’s a partial reversal of the 30 per cent cut which was imposed on new entrants in addition to the Croke Park and Haddington Road pay cuts. The result is we are unable to fill consultant posts and have to do so through agencies, which is costing even more, up to a grand a day.

“This will show a proper career path for junior doctors.” It was also claimed the deal will not be “for nothing”, adding targets and other goals will be tied in.

“They can meet us half way,” one source said of the unions.

Under the proposals, consultants, after five years in posts, will be able to apply for clinical- level posts, and clinical directors positions which would attract additional payments.

The move is aimed at changing the hospital system into a “consultant-delivered” service, as distinct from consultants leading teams of non-consultant doctors. It is also envisaged under the new proposals there would be a reduction in the number of non-consultant posts in the hospital system.