Hospitals cannot fill hundreds of consultant posts, group says
Government urged to take action over pay and working conditions for senior medics
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association has said Ireland was no longer internationally competitive in attracting highly-trained specialists.
The Government will come under strong pressure from hospital consultants to take action about their pay, working conditions and the escalating cost of clinical indemnity for those in private practice.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said there were still hundreds of approved consultant posts which health service and hospital authorities were unable to fill on a permanent basis.
“In 2015 one in four advertised hospital consultant posts received no applicants, and a significant percentage of posts received only one applicant per post.
“Under these circumstances the public health system will fail to provide the high quality safe care that the public deserves.”
The association, which is holding its annual conference this weekend in Kilkenny, said Ireland was no longer internationally competitive in attracting highly-trained specialists in the numbers needed to treat a growing number of patients and to develop the health service.
It blamed breaches by the Government of a consultant contract and pay deal agreed in 2008, cuts in salaries for new entrants and the shortage of resources available to frontline hospital services for undermining the attractiveness of the Irish health service to highly trained, internationally mobile specialists.
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“The State’s refusal to provide parity for new entrant consultants in terms of salary and the failure to restore basic trust risks the loss of a generation of highly-trained specialists and consultants who are emigrating to pursue their careers in other countries.”
Last December two consultants – backed by the IHCA – won cases in the Employment Appeals Tribunal over the HSE’s failure to pay higher salaries agreed as part of the contract agreed with the government in 2008.
One doctor received just under €100,000 and another about €14,000 in compensation.
The IHCA conference is expected to be told that an appeal being brought against these rulings by the HSE is scheduled to be heard in January, while separately a number of High Court test cases over alleged breaches of the 2008 contract would be proceeding to trial.
The conference is also expected to hear strong concerns about the impact of the soaring cost of medical indemnity costs for doctors working in private practice.
The association said rising clinical indemnity costs were “driving up the cost of providing care in public hospitals and are jeopardising private practice in surgical and other specialities, forcing consultants to cease practice and emigrate”.
“The cost of clinical indemnity more than doubled for most specialities in the two-year period commencing 2013 and ending 2014.
In 2015 and 2016 additional steep increases were imposed on some specialities and sub-specialities.”