There are 237 approved consultant posts vacant as of early November, according to statistics provided by the HSE to this newspaper. A further 487 posts are filled on what the Executive described as a “temporary” basis.
As of 4 November, there were 3,190 posts “filled”, 237 vacant, and two posts described as “unknown”. However, the breakdown of the 3,190 “filled” consultant posts by tenure is 2,703 undertaken on a permanent basis and 487 on a temporary basis.
The HSE defines ‘permanent’ as including “permanent consultants and consultants who have obtained a contract of indefinite duration”.
It defines ‘temporary’ as including “fixed-term contract holders and specified purpose contract holders that are appointed in either a temporary or locum capacity or through an agency”.
“In some instances, there may be more than one consultant assigned to a consultant post for a variety of reasons (job-sharing, locums etc),” said a HSE spokesperson.
Both the IHCA and the IMO have said the number of vacant consultant posts is close to 500, as some posts regarded as ‘filled’ are undertaken by locum doctors or filled on a temporary basis.
The two organisations have repeatedly called on Government to address consultant pay inequality.
According to the HSE, its data is extracted from the Doctors Integrated Management E-system (DIME) as of 4 November.
“DIME is dependent on clinical sites inputting details on their consultant workforce and therefore there may be variances and gaps in the data supplied to that held within clinical sites,” said the HSE’s spokesperson.