Medical consultants seek 800 extra beds and new targets for timely delivery of care
IHCA calls on Harris to end two-tier pay system for specialist doctors
Simon Harris: the Irish Hospital Consultants Association called on him to end the lower pay arrangements in place for medical specialists appointed since autumn 2012
Hospital consultants have urged the Minister for Health Simon Harris and Fine Gael to give a commitment to to open an additional 800 public hospital beds within two years, and to introduce new targets for the delivery of care that match those in place in the UK.
At a meeting with Mr Harris on Thursday, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) called for an ending of the lower pay arrangements in place for medical specialists appointed since autumn 2012.
The IHCA said the Minister should commit to and resource a maximum waiting time of four hours for patients presenting at emergency departments to be admitted to an inpatient bed if needed or discharged home or transferred to an appropriate service
It said the Minister “must also commit to and resource a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks following a GP referral for a consultant outpatient appointment, and for inpatient/day-case public hospital treatment”.
IHCA president Dr Donal O’Hanlon said: “At Thursday’s meeting frontline hospital consultants appealed to Minister Harris to put politics aside and patients first by committing to effective targets to deliver timely care to patients which at least match those in the NHS.
“The first requirement to provide timely care to the one million people on public hospital waiting lists and the hundreds of patients being treated on trolleys each day is to recruit and retain a sufficient number of permanent hospital consultants.
“More than anything else we need to fill the current 500 unfilled permanent hospital consultant posts caused by the Government’s discrimination against new consultants.
“The discrimination and the consequent consultant shortages are the main contributory factors behind the one million people now waiting for hospital treatment and the hundreds of patients languishing on hospital trolleys each day.
“Getting highly trained specialist consultants back working in our public hospitals will ensure that hospital patients are treated without unacceptable delays. Fine Gael’s election campaign urges the Irish public to ‘look forward’. But without decisive action now to attract hospital consultants into our health service one million people waiting for hospital care can’t look forward with hope, but only with continued despair.”
Before Christmas the Government proposed that in future the only consultant posts it will offer will involve medical specialists treating public patients exclusively. It wants public hospitals to cater only for public patients under the proposed Sláintecare health reforms.
Under a proposed new Sláintecare contract, the Government has offered to pay consultants up to €222,460, rising to €252,150 by July 2022.
At separate talks with the Minister last week the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) proposed that consultants should have the right to see fee-paying patients in private facilities in their own time, away from public hospitals, as part of future contractual arrangements.