The IMO has said it “notes” the proposal by the Taoiseach in the Dáil this morning to offer public-only consultant contracts to all consultants as a means of resolving the current dispute over pay and recruitment and retention issues.
Earlier today, the Taoiseach told the Dáil: “We have done a good deal with GPs. We are now willing to make a deal with consultants to offer them €250,000 per year provided they commit to our public hospitals and public health service alone.”
The Taoiseach said the system under which consultants appointed post-2012 receive around €50,000 less than other colleagues – was “wrong”.
Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe are due to announce details of the new “Sláintecare contract” for consultants this evening.
In a statement this afternoon, the IMO said: “Clearly yesterday’s overwhelming vote by IMO consultant and NCHD members to vote in favour of strike action in the New Year is already having an impact in terms of engaging the Taoiseach in this crisis.
“However, the Taoiseach must understand that to resolve this issue will require negotiations with the IMO and not unilateral pronouncements in the Dail. In the absence of such negotiations, our plans for industrial action in the New Year continue.
“The roots of the current crisis go back to a unilateral decision by a Fine Gael-led Government in 2012 to slash pay for new consultants. That decision led directly to the current trolley crisis and the waiting list crisis because it has caused a shortage of desperately needed consultants to see and treat patients. Lest we forget there are currently circa 540 unfilled consultant posts across the sector in Ireland.
“Having caused this crisis by a failure to sit down with the IMO, it is ironic that the Taoiseach thinks he can solve it now by acting unilaterally again. He cannot. He needs to sit down with the IMO and have the good sense to acknowledge the scale of the crisis facing us and demonstrate a real willingness to work with us on finding workable proposals to resolve it.
“It is good to see the Taoiseach engaging on this issue. Now let’s see him engage seriously with consultants and NCHDs to resolve this dispute.”
Yesterday, the union announced that its consultant and NCHD members had voted in favour of industrial action over the new-entrant consultant pay issue.
The final vote was 94 per cent in favour of industrial action with 6 per cent opposed. In the absence of a resolution of this matter, the IMO expects that industrial action will take place early in the New Year.
The Organisation’s key demand is an end to the “unjustifiable” pay inequality faced by new-entrant consultants.