Unions resist Sláintecare agenda, citing failure to consult

Health staff representatives unhappy at lack of engagement prior to launch of new plan

Health service unions sought an urgent meeting with management following the Minister’s announcment of the Sláintecare strategy. File photograph: Getty

Health service unions sought an urgent meeting with management following the Minister’s announcment of the Sláintecare strategy. File photograph: Getty

 

Health service unions have signalled an unwillingness to agree plans for implementation of the Sláintecare reform programme announced by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Wednesday without engagement with them.

The unions have argued that they had not been consulted about the implementation plan launched by the Coalition.

In a letter to the Health Service Executive the unions expressed disappointment at the announcement without “appropriate engagement and consultation”.

The unions sought an urgent meeting with management on the issue.

“Furthermore it is not possible for the trade unions to sign off on the action plan proposed in the absence of clear agreement on how engagement and consultation will take place.”

Mr Donnelly announced a three-year strategy for the implementation of Sláintecare reforms. These would mean a multiannual plan to reduce waiting lists in hospital and the community, building new elective hospitals in Cork, Dublin and Galway, rollout of the new contract for consultants that would permit public-only work in public hospitals and hiring of 7,000 additional community-based healthcare staff.

The plan also calls for the establishment of 32 community specialist hubs, creation of six new regional health areas and establishment of 96 new community healthcare networks to support integrated care across primary, community and acute care.

‘Key objectives’ outlined

Meanwhile, separately on Thursday Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath told the Oireachtas committee on finance that new public-service pay legislation would enable progress on a range of “pay reform matters” including Sláintecare.

“A key objective of the Sláintecare implementation process is to remove consultant private practice from public hospitals. Central to implementation of this reform is a move to public-only consultant contracts and to tailor that contract to align with wider Slaintecare reforms. The new contract – noting the significant reforms involved – is to be offered an increased pay level. A consultation process with the medical unions on the new contract has commenced.”

The Minister said the new public service pay agreement so contained “a reform agenda”.

He said each sector in the public service would “produce and publish reform plans that will demonstrate delivery each year and payment of a 1 per cent sectoral fund will be conditional on the delivery of actual reforms”.