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26% of new-entrant consultants say last job was abroad

By David Lynch - 21st Jan 2024

abroad

Over a quarter of new-entrant public-only consultant contract (POCC23) holders indicated they held jobs abroad in their previous employment, according to figures provided to this newspaper.

As of 18 December, the National Recruitment Service (NRS) had issued 193 public-only contracts to new-entrants. A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent that 26 per cent of the 193 new contract holders indicated that their last employment was abroad.

“NRS issue contracts following recruitment to the HSE, however, it has no role in issuing contracts when individual consultants opt to ‘switch’ from one contract to another,” said the HSE’s spokesperson. The spokesperson added that details about existing consultants who had ‘switched’ to the POCC23 were not held centrally by the Executive.

On 14 January, the Department of Health released new figures showing some 1,548 consultants had signed the POCC23. The POCC23 holders included 306 new-entrant consultants and 1,242 consultants who had switched from their previous contracts.

To date, the top three specialties that are seeing the largest uptake of the contract are general medicine, anaesthesiology, and surgery.

The new uptake figures mean that more than 35 per cent of the total number of consultants working across the public health service are now on the new contract, according to the Department.

The Department also stated that there were now 4,235 whole-time equivalent (WTE) consultants in the public health service. In comparison, there were 3,250 WTE consultants in December 2019, which highlighted the “very substantial 30 per cent growth in the number of consultants working in our public health service over this period”.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly commented: “I am delighted to see the positive response to the public-only consultant contract. The introduction of this contract represents a landmark in delivering universal healthcare. It is a progressive contract that puts the interests of patients to the fore.”

“This new contract is facilitating a transition away from the provision of private care in public hospitals and ensuring that State resources are provided in accordance with patient need rather than a patient’s ability to pay. The contract compares very favourably with other health services around the world and it is clearly proving attractive to potential candidates.”

Separately, on 11 December, the Sláintecare programme board meeting noted the “strong uptake” of the POCC23, according to meeting minutes.

The minutes stated that this meant hospital consultants were being rostered “over longer hours in the day and over weekends resulting in consultant-delivered services being made more available later into the evening and at weekends”.

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