Call for rethink on consultant pay cuts


The representative body for the State’s seven universities has told the Government that moves to introduce new lower salary levels for academic medical consultants would cause a degree of damage that would outweigh the monetary savings involved.

In a letter to Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Minister for Health James Reilly, the Irish Universities Association expressed “grave concern” at the new lower rates and urged that the plan be reconsidered.

Under measures announced last autumn pay scales for newly appointed hospital consultants, including academic consultants, have been cut by about 30 per cent.

Under the moves the starting salary for professors with a type A contract (public patients only), fell from €231,653 to just under €146,000 while the entry rate for professors with a type B contract (limited private practice) fell from €194,000 to about €136,000.

In a letter to the ministers the chief executive of the association, Ned Costello, said its council wanted to reiterate that the academic consultant posts were senior-level leadership positions which often required international experience. “They are pivotal to teaching and research in the universities and the health system more widely. Most critically, the quality and capability of the individuals recruited to these positions is a vital determinant of the quality of those graduating into the medical and dental professions and thus the overall quality of healthcare nationally.

“There is solid evidence that universities internationally pay a significant premium for posts of this nature, reflecting the importance of the role outlined above.”

He said the association was pressing for greater flexibility in remuneration structures with defined overall limits on exchequer funding and with measures to prevent pay drift and the accrual of additional pensions’ liabilities.