Public-only hospital consultant contract will be introduced this year, says Donnelly

Sláintecare move is significant opportunity to deal with unfilled posts, according to Minister

Long-planned new Sláintecare public-only hospital consultant contract ‘will be introduced this year’

Long-planned new Sláintecare public-only hospital consultant contract ‘will be introduced this year’


The long-planned new Sláintecare public-only hospital consultant contract will be introduced this year, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

In an address to the annual conference of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on Saturday he said “this represents a significant opportunity to address the current number of temporary and unfilled consultant posts”.

He said he had asked the HSE to “develop a plan to achieve this”.

In December 2019, then minister for health Simon Harris and then minister for public expenditure Paschal Donohoe announced all future consultant appointments would be to the new Sláintecare contract, which required consultants employed by the State to focus 100 per cent of their time on public-only work.

It was envisaged at the time that pay for the new public-only contract would be set initially at €222,460, rising to €252,150 by July 2022

It had been planned the new Sláintecare contract would be introduced in the second quarter of last year. However, this did not happen as scheduled.

Mr Donnelly told the IMO conference that as part of the implementation of measures funded in the budget for this year an additional 600 consultant posts would be created and filled.

The Minister said the new arrangements to restructure public health medicine – including the creation of more than 80 consultant posts in this specialty that were agreed with the IMO earlier this week – represented “a landmark” development.

“Our public health teams have been leading on Covid from day one. They have worked under intense pressure all year and continue to do so, and it’s very welcome to be able to deliver this result,” Mr Donnelly said.

“The Government recognised that major reform of the public health function is necessary, and we committed to investing in, and resourcing of, public health and the delivery of a strengthened and reformed consultant-delivered public health model.”

The Minister said the Government was committed to continue to enhance services in acute care, general practice, community and social care, and public health.

He said this included the most ambitious healthcare budget and reform plan in living memory.

“This Government wants to improve patient access, the patient experience and patient outcomes – all of which require major improvements and continuing reform of the Irish health service that is being deliver through the implementation of Sláintecare as we move to universal healthcare.

“In Budget 2021 we committed to major investment in health – but not just more money – we know the results will be more staff, more beds, better services and importantly better outcomes for people.”

He said he was determined to ensure Ireland was a great place for doctors to train, to work and to build rewarding careers.

Mr Donnelly said he had recently announced an increase of 120 medical intern posts plus additional postgraduate training places and fellowship posts for July this year.

The Minister said that over the next few months, the HSE would undertake “a formal review of the number of intern posts and postgraduate training places to ensure we are in line with future workforce planning requirements for our health and social care services”.

“I want to tell you today that I am committed to continuing to increase the number of training posts and at the same time to reducing our reliance on non-training posts. I want to ensure we provide the opportunities to many skilled doctors who currently occupy non-training posts with no career pathways. We want to bring an end to that. With the HSE, I am committed to addressing this,” he said.

“As Minister for Health I want doctors to stay in the Irish health service, and for those who have emigrated to return home, and I will work with you to achieve this.”