It will take at least a year to judge whether the new consultant contract is having a positive impact on recruitment and retention, the outgoing President of the IMO Dr Clive Kilgallen told this newspaper at the Organisation’s AGM.
At its national meeting, the IMO consultant committee called on the Department of Health and the HSE to “engage further” with the Organisation to address “significant concerns” in relation to rostering, location, and locum provisions in the new contract.
The consultant meeting heard a number of concerns raised by members about aspects of the new contract.
Committee Chair Prof Matthew Sadlier said it was “imperative that if we are not recruiting [under the new contract] then the State must engage with the IMO immediately and not waste another decade”.
Prof Sadlier told members that the “jury is out” on whether the contract will achieve the goal of resolving the recruitment and retention crisis.
Dr Kilgallen told the Medical Independent (MI) that it would be at least 12 months before conclusions can be made about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the new contract.
“It is going to take a year anyway, I suspect. All new entrants coming in will get this new contract, that’s the first thing,” he told MI.
“People will be interested to see how they get on and hear their response to this. Then there is the cohort of doctors who are on the older contract, like myself, so we will see how many of those will move over to the new contract.”
Dr Kilgallen said he hopes the contract is implemented “in a reasonable way and people are seen to be treated fairly”.
The consultant meeting also passed a motion “that no consultant is pressurised to transfer” to the new contract and that “contractual rights under current and existing contracts are fully honoured”.
The meeting passed another motion calling on health management to “put in place clear policies across all sites” to ensure no consultant is “forced to take on unsafe levels of workload”.
In his speech to the Organisation’s AGM, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said there had been “quite misleading information put about concerning the contract, not by the IMO it’s worth saying”.
The Minister said this had contributed to the number of consultants expressing concerns about the contract.
“It has raised concerns that are not borne out by the contract,” Minister Donnelly told MI.
In his speech the Minister said the contract was a good deal for doctors and patients and “sets the stage now for a big increase in consultant numbers”.
“There has been a very substantial increase in the number of hospital consultants in Ireland over the past decade. In spite of this, we need many more,” according to the Minister.
“Today there are around 3,800 whole-time equivalent posts. We need around 6,000 and through the budgets for 2021, 2022, and this year, we have started
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