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The IMO is to re-engage with Department of Health and HSE officials in early September to progress the establishment of consultant status for public health specialists, the Medical Independent (MI) has learned.
A change in legislation is required in order to approve the measure, which has been sought by specialists in the field for several years now.
The future framework for public health and the “difficulties in the out of hours” will also be discussed at the meeting, a spokesperson for the IMO confirmed.
The out-of-hours challenges, exacerbated by Covid-19, with many public health specialists working 70-100 hour weeks during the height of the pandemic, refer to the fact that many specialists are working outside of their contract and have unfair out-of-hours pay arrangements.
The IMO is seeking timelines for implementation of the Crowe Horwath report, including consultant status from the HSE and Department of Health.
It also wants an assurance that the type A 2008 contract with the corresponding pay scales, and some specific provisions for consultants in public health medicine, similar to existing provisions within the contract for academic consultants, will be used.
Finally, it believes “specialists in public health medicine must be entitled to consultant status with certain leadership positions attracting allowances”, and will be making this point to healthcare officials.
The spokesperson added that the IMO welcomed the call from HSE CEO Mr Paul Reid for extra resources to help the sector cope during the winter months.
“Our public health departments are stretched and require extra staffing and support during this crucial time. We have yet to see details of what will be available,” said the spokesperson.
The Crowe Horwath Report on the Role, Training and Career Structures of Public Health Physicians in Ireland and its implementation was published in December 2018.
The report warned “large cohorts of the profession are due to retire within the next 5-10 years, representing a considerable challenge to the public health system”, which is currently under severe strain due to Covid-19.