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Occupational health specialists put on ‘defunct pay scale’, warns IMO

By Catherine Reilly - 21st Sep 2020

The IMO’s Director of Industrial Relations for Consultants and NCHDs has told the HSE he is “at a loss” to understand why it has placed some occupational medicine consultants on a defunct pay scale.

Last month, the union’s Mr Anthony Owens wrote to National Clinical Lead in Workplace Health and Wellbeing Health Dr Lynda Sisson, warning that the IMO reserved the right to seek third party intervention on the matter if necessary.

In his correspondence, Mr Owens stated he was involved in the negotiations that led to the introduction of a nine-point consultant pay scale in January 2015. He was therefore “most surprised” to discover there were consultants in occupational medicine/occupational health physicians appointed later than January 2015 who were “still remunerated on the previous four point pay scale, that had been superseded by the January 2015 scale”.

The previous scale, introduced in September 2012, was removed from the consolidated pay scales upon the negotiation and acceptance by ballot of IMO members of the January 2015 scale.

“The rationale behind the negotiations that led to the January 2015 pay scales was quite clear,” wrote Mr Owens.

“It was recognised by all reasonable observers that the pay scale that was introduced in September 2012 had had a dreadful effect on the ability of the health service to recruit specialist medical personnel.”

According to Mr Owens’ letter, new-entrant medical specialists should be paid on the correct scale “with the appropriate retrospection”.

Mr Owens also underlined that the pandemic had placed unprecedented demands on occupational health specialists.

“They are the experts that are relied on to keep our essential healthcare workers safe, healthy and able to work. We know that they are overstretched already and that this is likely only to get worse.”

Mr Owens informed the Medical Independent (MI) that “while we have people in post on this defunct salary scale, the HSE (or agents on their behalf) advertise occupational health posts at the appropriate pay scale for consultant new entrants”.

MI awaited a comment from the HSE at press time.

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