There were almost 500 ‘vacant’ consultant posts at the end of last year, according to HSE figures supplied to this newspaper.
There were 3,571 consultant posts filled across the HSE system at the end of December, according to the Executive’s quarterly consultant workforce report for the end of the year. This represents an increase of 30 consultant posts filled from the figures for the end of September.
The new quarterly consultant workforce report has undergone a redesign and does not include the number of vacant posts. However, a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent there were “just under 500 vacant posts in December 2022”.
This compares to 479 consultant posts vacant at the end of September, which is 55 fewer than at the end of June.
The IMO and IHCA have previously stated there are over 800 consultant posts unfilled on a permanent basis. The HSE figures designate posts filled by temporary or locum doctors as ‘filled’ and these posts are not included in the number of vacancies.
Asked about the changes to the quarterly consultant workforce report design, the spokesperson said: “The volume and variety of demands for data from DIME [Doctors Integrated Management E-system] has resulted in us streamlining and improving the quality of reports
Separately, earlier this month, consultant and NCHD members of the IMO voted to reject the new Sláintecare consultant contract proposed by the Department of Health and the HSE. Some 57 per cent of current contract holders indicated they would not switch to the new contract, while 64 per cent of NCHDs said they would not take up the contract.
Nearly three-quarters of IHCA members were “not confident” the new Sláintecare contract would address the consultant recruitment and retention crisis, found a recent survey conducted by the Association.