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Sláintecare consultant contract ‘remains a priority’ – DoH

The IMO has not been informed of any planned talks regarding the proposed Sláintecare ‘type A public-only’ consultant contract, it has said.

Any future negotiations would need to “address outstanding issues arising out of the implementation, or non-implementation, of the current contract”, the Organisation stated.

However, a Department of Health spokesperson told the Medical Independent that the contract remained a “priority”. It did not provide a date for introducing the contract.

In December 2019, then Minister for Health Simon Harris announced a Sláintecare contract for consultants. All future consultant appointments would be to this contract from Q2, 2020, it was planned. It would require consultants employed by the State to focus 100 per cent of their time on public-only work.

The IMO’s spokesperson said the “key” challenges to the recruitment and retention of consultants is the 30 per cent pay cut for consultants appointed since October 2012. This matter “will need to be resolved in the context of any contract discussions”.

Other areas of concern are capacity and resources to allow consultants to deliver timely care, the replacement of any lost income from private insurers to public hospitals, and protected time for professional development and research.

The IMO would also “seek assurances about guaranteed payment and implementation of any agreed contractual terms”.

According to the Department, the new contract will be the only consultant contract available for new entrants. Serving consultants will also be able to switch to this contract if they choose.

Legal amendments are required to enable pay increases for serving consultants who move to the Sláintecare contract, with the drafting of this legislation approved in late September.

The IHCA had not commented by press time.

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