Consultants will have to be paid more to stay in public system – Harris

‘I want to look at how we can end the two-tier reality,’ says Minister for Health

Minister for Health Simon Harris. File photograph: Dara MacDónaill

Minister for Health Simon Harris. File photograph: Dara MacDónaill

 

The Government is going to have to pay hospital consultants a lot more money if it wants to keep them working in the public health service, the Minister for Health Simon Harris has said.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday he said he wanted to pay consultants working in public hospitals more for doing public medicine.

Replying to a question from Róisín Shortall of the Social Democrats, he said he intended to sit down with representative bodies, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and the Irish Hospital Consultants Association(IHCA).

He said that other health service groups including GPs, nurses and midwives, who wanted to talk about more money or reversal of austerity-era cuts, had to do that alongside a programme of reform.

“Consultants are no different in that regard. I want to pay our consultants working in public hospitals more for doing public medicine. I want to look at how we can end the two-tier reality in that regard. I do not want to do anything that would worsen that divide.”

Mr Harris said the recent de Buitléir report on ending private medicine in public hospitals needed to be implemented in full.

“As the Taoiseach outlined recently to this House, progress has been made between my department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of the Taoiseach in respect to an approach to negotiations with our consultants and the implementation of the de Buitléir recommendations. I expect to be able to bring forward concrete proposals to consultant bodies in that regard.

“Dr Donal de Buitléir has said very clearly . . . that we should offer a Sláintecare-type A contract, with pay parity for new entrant consultants who take up this contract.”

Mr Harris said he had no interest in using taxpayers’ money to “further embed a practice that neither I nor the Deputy believe in, which is using public beds in our hospitals to profit private health insurance companies”.