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Minister announces ‘process’ to look at consultant pay against backdrop of strike threats

The new IMO President has reacted positively to a promise made by Minister for Health Simon Harris at the union’s AGM to establish a process to deal with new-entrant consultant pay.

The Minister made his commitment to begin the process during his speech on the Saturday afternoon of the conference. Earlier that day a number of leading consultants in the Organisation, among them former IMO Presidents, expressed strong concerns about the “pay discrimination” against new-entrant consultants and warned “industrial action” would need to be taken to rectify the situation.

Speaking after the Minister’s speech, IMO President Dr Padraig McGarry welcomed the “positive” comments from the Minister.

“We will be writing to the Minister in the coming days to seek a formal start to the process the Minister has spoken about,” he said in his inaugural speech as president.

“This issue has been allowed fester for seven years and it must now be addressed urgently. Our expectation is that the process will commence within weeks and we expect the matter to be resolved and the pay differential cancelled within months. Anything less will be insufficient.”

Dr McGarry said the issue was one of equity and fairness, but that the continuation of the pay differential was also a key factor in explaining why 500 consultant posts in Ireland are vacant and patients are being forced to wait unacceptable lengths of time to  see a consultant.

Earlier that day at a joint meeting of consultant and NCHD union members, there was strong anger expressed with the continuing situation and how it impacted on recruitment and retention of doctors. There were also numerous calls for industrial action if this was not resolved.

“This is a catastrophe,” IMO NCHD Committee Chair Dr Paddy Hillery told the joint meeting. “This is the single biggest shock that has happened to the Irish health service over the last number of years.”

Dr Matthew Sadlier, Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, North Dublin, and former IMO President said “we have been to the Labour Relations Commission, we have been to the Labour Court, the only way to solve this problem is industrial action”.

Dr Anthony O’Connor, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, referenced two previous strikes that the union had been involved in, “let there be no doubt at all”, warned Dr O’Connor, “the third strike is coming, and it is coming because of this”.

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