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Consultants working beside each other and doing the same job with the same level of responsibility and qualifications are being paid significantly poorer rates of pay for the same work. The pay difference will rise to €50,000 in the coming months following an agreement to finally pay the correct salary to consultants recruited before 2012.
According to the IMO, the HSE is struggling to fill consultant posts and this will continue to be the case “until this wrong is righted”. There are now almost 500 unfilled consultant posts which is directly impacting on patient care as manifested by the growing waiting lists for hospital care (over 700,000 now on waiting lists).
Dr Peadar Gilligan welcomed the acknowledgement in the Report by the Public Service Pay Commission which stated: “The reductions in pay which were applied to consultants appointed since 2012 were particularly severe and that the differential in pay between the pre-existing cadre of consultants and these new entrants is greater than for other categories of public servants.”
The Pay Commission goes on to recommend that the parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement jointly consider what further measures could be taken to address this difficulty. The IMO as the Party, on behalf of doctors employed in the health services, demand Government immediately engage.
The Pay Commission highlights that the lack of the applicants for consultant posts is “indicative of a significant ongoing problem in regard to the recruitment of consultants”.
Consultant posts are failing in many cases to attract a single applicant – this would have been unheard of even a decade ago when there was fierce competition for every post.
Dr. Gilligan warned; “We cannot hope to reform our services if we do not have the consultant workforce to do so. After the original cut was imposed the IMO did successfully negotiate an interim arrangement to improve the lot of those consultants suffering the 30 per cent cut and at that time the then Minister for Health, now Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD publicly stated, when discussing a replacement for the Haddington Road Agreement, that equal work should attract equal pay.” Many consultants took him at his word.
Dr Gilligan said that “doctors in general have not traditionally tended to engage in industrial action to resolve matters however the frustration and anger at this issue which has been long running makes that prospect all the more likely. All recent efforts by the IMO to address the matter on behalf of recently appointed consultants have been rejected by Government and now an independent report, commissioned by the same Government, supports our position; It is time for the Government to act.”