The IMO met with the Department on 8 January to discuss the Crowe Horwath Report on the Role, Training and Career Structures of Public Health Physicians in Ireland and its implementation.
The report was finally published in late December, with the Department stating at the time that engagement on the development of a “significantly different operational model for the delivery of public health medicine services” would commence in early 2019.
Crowe Horwath were commissioned by the Department to undertake the report, which notes “public health physicians indicated a high level of dissatisfaction with current contracts, status, and remuneration, with a clear desire to see these addressed by means of the approval of consultant status for specialists in public health medicine.”
The report warns “large cohorts of the profession are due to retire within the next 5-10 years, representing a considerable challenge to the public health system”.
It says that “simply replacing retiring public health doctors on a like-with-like basis will mean recruiting 40 new entrants to the workforce over the next five years.”
Attractive remuneration packages available to public health physicians in the UK will negatively impact recruitment of public health doctors in Ireland, the report adds.
“Under present circumstances, the status and remuneration available to senior public health doctors in Ireland will make it difficult for Irish employers to compete within a very demanding global medical labour market.”
Industrial action was suspended on foot of the initial meeting but the IMO has agreed to maintain the mandate given by IMO members for strike action.
The IMO has described the meeting as “positive” and said it reiterated to the Department that all public health doctors should have consultant status as they have completed higher specialist training in the same manner as their consultant colleagues.
“Our understanding is that an implementation plan will be drawn up in the next month to address Crowe Horwath,” IMO Director of Industrial Relations (General Practice, Public and Community Health), Val Moran, told members in correspondence.
“While it is accepted that there is a process which must be gone through and that this process may take some time the IMO Public Health Medicine Committee are hopeful that progress can be made on the issues affecting the specialty.”