Private hospitals and consultants

Sir, – There has been significant media coverage surrounding hundreds of senior medical consultants who work in the independent healthcare sector and are now effectively locked out of their workplaces since April 1st. Most of us have tens of thousands of past and current patients to whom we owe a duty of care.

Some of the commentators, including representatives from HSE, have tried to paint this as a stalemate caused by hundreds of us not accepting a temporary locum contract of employment. For most of us, if we accept this flawed and restrictive contract, we can no longer look after our past and current patients. All of our future patients would have the chain of their clinical care broken when this locum contract ends as they are referred back to the ocean of waiting lists in the State-run healthcare system.

There is also a fundamental difference, as the standard of care that we currently provide to our patients is consultant-delivered service. What we are being asked to do is to downgrade this highest level of standard of care under this temporary contract to a consultant-led service that is predominantly delivered by team of non-consultant hospital doctors, albeit under consultant guidance.

Thankfully the pandemic crisis is now under control and a simple solution would be to release at least 50 per cent capacity back to independent care providers for the time being. This would immediately save taxpayers at least €65 million per month.


There are currently 2.2 million subscribers of healthcare insurance who are shut out of accessing clinical care and are being forced towards an already overburdened State-run healthcare system. The independent sector provides one million bed nights, carries out three million diagnostic tests and treats 400,000 patients annually. – Yours, etc,


Former president

Irish Medical Organisation,