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IMO Consultant Committee Chairman Dr Peadar Gilligan told the Medical Independent (MI) that young consultants who took up HSE contracts after the 30 per cent pay cut on new entrants was imposed were “incredibly angry” about the pay disparity with their more senior colleagues and were leaving to take posts abroad.
He said consultant resignations appear to be most common in child and adolescent psychiatry, surgery and emergency medicine. Meanwhile, new consultants are being offered contracts not agreed with the IMO and are being pressurised to sign up to unsatisfactory terms, while hospitals are varying in their interpretation of contracts, stated Dr Gilligan.
Former IMO President Prof Trevor Duffy described the 30 per cent salary cut as “purely vindictive” and coming as a complete surprise following a meeting between the IMO and HSE at the Labour Relations Commission the day before. He said this has created an atmosphere of mistrust with the HSE, which continues with consultants having to constantly check their payslips, for example.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Matthew Sadlier noted that the 30 per cent cut had led to higher costs for the HSE in agency fees and locum cover due to the resultant consultant manpower crisis, as well as increasing hospital outpatient waiting lists, emergency department waiting times “and probably increased mortality”.
The meeting heard that there are currently over 370 vacant consultant posts across the HSE, many of which have been vacant for long periods and have attracted few applications.
Dr Sadlier called on the HSE to publish regular updates on the consultant workforce, to highlight vacancies and to conduct exit interviews with those resigning posts.
Contract and pay issues dominated the consultant meeting, with renewed calls for the HSE to enter negotiations with the IMO on a new contract. Frustration was expressed that the IMO’s calls for a new consultant contract at last year’s IMO AGM had not been heeded by the Department of Health and HSE.
Motions passed at the consultants’ meeting called on the HSE to honour its existing contracts with consultants, to restore the agreed 2008 salary scale for all consultants, and to investigate the impact of the 30 per cent consultant pay cut in 2012 on the health service and patient mortality and morbidity.
A motion proposed by Dr David O’Gorman, and passed, called for a 30 per cent reduction in the pay of new TDs elected in the last election to match the cut to new-entrant consultant salaries.