The Government has approved a new public-only hospital consultant contract.
It follows the conclusion of negotiations between the Department of Health, the HSE, the IMO and the IHCA.
“The representative bodies will consider the proposals through their respective processes” according to the Department.
The Government has also approved the recruitment of an additional 1,000 consultants following the introduction of the contract.
According to the Department the new Sláintecare contract will include:
- Basic pay of €209,915 – €252,150 on a six-point scale.
- A 37-hour week with an 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 6pm Saturday.
- Consultants will continue to receive additional remuneration for on-call duties and overtime as applicable.
- The contract enables consultants opt for a variety of different work patterns including less than whole time; work sharing; compressed hours; “flexible start and finish times will be available to the greatest extent possible”.
- Supporting consultants to participate in medical education training and research and “enabling a greater focus on research and education in line with other jurisdictions”.
- Consultants will be free, having met their commitment to their public contract, to engage in off-site private practice, “in the same way as allowed in the NHS”.
In response to the Government’s announcement Professor Matthew Sadlier, Chairman of the Consultant Committee of the IMO said, “our key objective in these negotiations has been to ensure that any contract offered is capable of resolving the chronic recruitment and retention crisis where we have over 900 vacant consultant posts in our public health services”.
“This crisis is directly impacting on the provision of timely care to patients, unsafe waiting lists of almost a million patients and intolerable waiting times. There are significant problems in our health services in terms of capacity issues where we have too few beds, too few doctors and other healthcare professionals and incredibly challenging working conditions.”
Professor Sadlier continued; “with regard to the proposals for a new contract, we have concerns as to how some of these proposals can be implemented given the serious staffing issues at consultant level and will be considering this in detail. We will engage with our membership with a view to responding to the Department in January 2023.”
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said “The introduction of this new contract will be a landmark in delivering universal healthcare.”
“This new contract will ensure that care will be provided when patients need it most,” he added.
“Consultant decision-making on-site results in reduced emergency admissions, shorter lengths of stay and more complete care plans for discharge. This new contract will not result in an increase in working hours for consultants but instead will focus on ensuring that these senior decision makers are present and delivering patient care when demand is highest.
“This will enable the health service to maintain efficient and timely patient flow out-of-hours and at weekends, enhance senior decision-maker presence on-site and reduce waiting times by maximising capacity in our hospitals.
“This new contract will allow a transition away from the provision of private care in public hospitals and ensure state resources are provided in accordance with need rather than ability to pay.”