Public health doctors threaten strike action over pay row

Dispute centres over affording public health specialists consultant status

Public health doctors play a key role in protecting the public from health threats such as communicable disease and environmental hazards.

Public health doctors play a key role in protecting the public from health threats such as communicable disease and environmental hazards.

 

Public health doctors, who are at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, have warned they will ballot for strike action before Christmas if the Government does not resolve a long-running pay issue.

It is understood that at a meeting on Thursday night the doctors who are represented by the Irish Medical Organisation decided on a strategy which would set a two-month deadline for the Government otherwise they would carry out a ballot for industrial action up to and including strike action.

It has been established health service policy that public health specialists should be afforded consultant status following the the publication of the Crowe Horwath report on the specialty in December 2018.

The Irish Medical Organisation said last week that public health doctors were playing a crucial role in the battle against Covid-19 but were just getting “lip service” for their efforts.

Public health doctors play a key role in protecting the public from health threats such as communicable disease and environmental hazards.

On Monday sources within Government indicated that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform would draft amendments to the existing financial legislation which currently prohibits pay increases for serving public servants. Such a a move would facilitate the payment of higher salaries to public health doctors.

It is understood that a memorandum will be prepared for the Cabinet before the end of September.

However a key issue will be the timeframe and criteria under which public health specialists would be afforded the status of consultants.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has been campaigning for some time for public health to become a consultant-led service and for public health specialists to be awarded consultant contracts “to reflect their expertise and specialist skills”.

Public health specialists earn € 113,822 at present. Hospital consultants with a type-A contract - which permits them to treat only public patients - and have a pay scale that ranges from €141,026 to €195,653.

The Department of Health last week told The Irish Times that it, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the HSE were “committed to the early introduction of a new model for public healthcare, as provided for the Programme for Government, and to the model incorporating consultant status for public health specialists”.