The IMO has accused the HSE and the Department of Health of hypocrisy for praising the expertise of public health specialists on the one hand even while denying them consultant status on the other.
However today (Wednesday 9 September) the IMO met with the HSE and Department of Health on the issue. This is the latest in a series of meetings which began last year. It follows comments from the Minister for Health to the COVID 19 committee indicating progress would be made.
At the meeting the IMO was told that the Department of Expenditure and Reform is effectively blocking the development by withholding approval for the revised terms of the new consultant contract and stalling progress on the required legislative changes.
Dr Ina Kelly, Chairman of the Public Health Committee of the IMO, said: “Politicians have been falling over themselves to praise the work of public health specialists for the past six months but when it comes to recognising their status by granting them long-promised consultant contracts, they refuse. This is not only unfair on the hard working specialists who are battling Covid-19 at the moment, it will directly discourage future doctors from considering a career in public health medicine. Even as we speak our public health specialists are being actively recruited as consultants in other jurisdictions. That will accelerate when they see that their reasonable expectations are being ignored in their own country.”
The argument for public health specialists to be awarded consultant posts has long been accepted in many Government commissioned reports including recent reports from Crowe Howarth and the Scally report on CervicalCheck yet little or no progress has been made.
Dr Kelly said it was significant that the Government was able to move with speed to facilitate required legislation to raise the salaries for three “super-junior” Ministers in the new Government but couldn’t show the same resourcefulness when it came to helping frontline workers.
The IMO Public Health Committee will meet over the coming days to consider a formal response to Government.
However, Dr Kelly warned: “Our colleagues have stepped up to the plate, taken on duties that are not covered by contract, worked continuously without proper time off to manage outbreaks and I know they will be completely devastated by the inaction of Government on this matter. Ireland needs a consultant led public health system and it needs it now.”