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The Chair of the independent review group established to examine private activity in public hospitals, Dr Donal de Buitléir (PhD), has said the public-only Sláintecare contracts can be made sufficiently attractive to recruit consultants to work in the Irish health service.
In December, it was announced that from quarter 2, 2020, all future consultant appointments will be to the new Sláintecare contract, which requires consultants employed by the State to focus 100 per cent of their time on public-only work.
The Sláintecare contract will be offered at increased pay levels of up to €222,460, rising further to €252,150 by July 2022.
At a recent Society of Actuaries healthcare forum, which took place before the contract announcement, IHCA Secretary General Mr Martin Varley said health management had largely failed in the past to get consultants to sign up to public-only type A contracts.
Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) at the meeting, Dr de Buitléir acknowledged there was currently a consultant recruitment problem and a need to pay the group “properly”.
“I am in violent agreement with [Mr Varley] on paying them properly,” he said.
“We might argue about what the number is, but pick a number. If it doesn’t work, put it up, that’s the way I think about it.”
During his presentation, Dr de Buitléir pointed out that the salary suggested in the group’s report was “in the top 1 per cent of the income distribution in Ireland”.
He told MI that the overall recommendations in the report were achievable and would be implemented on a phased basis.
“It is a practical document. The costs in the early years are very low,” he said.
The IMO had said its plans for industrial action would remain, in the absence of substantial negotiation on consultant recruitment and pay.
However, following talks on 10 January with the Minister for Health Simon Harris on a new contract, the union decided to defer its planned strike.
“The talks this morning were constructive and on that basis we are prepared to enter into a phase of intensive negotiations from February 2020,” according to former IMO President and member of the union’s consultant committee Dr Matthew Sadlier.
“On this basis we will defer our strike action but hold the mandate pending negotiations.”