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Sláintecare contract ‘could delay’ public health reforms

The introduction of a new Sláintecare contract for consultants could lead to delays in the implementation of reforms in public health medicine, the Medical Independent (MI) has learned.

Negotiations between the IMO and health officials on delivering improvements in public health, including consultant status for specialists, have been ongoing since early 2019.

Reforms set out in the Crowe Horwath report on the role, training and career structures of public health physicians in Ireland were due to be achieved by the end of September 2020.

Public health should be treated the same as any other specialty from a contractual and salary perspective, Dr Ina Kelly, Specialist in Public Health Medicine and IMO Public Health Chair, told MI.

“Recent developments with regard to a new overall consultant contract to replace the 2008 contract raise some difficulties and possibly delays, as clearly any new public contract which would apply to other consultants should apply to consultants in public health medicine,” said Dr Kelly.

“It is essential that the consultant contract issue is resolved before implementation of full reform, as set out in the Crowe Horwath report.

“The Public Health Emergency of International Concern in relation to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) brings to the fore the importance of a strong public health medicine service, and our experiences of dealing with the public health response to the risks and learning from the challenges will need to inform the reform process to ensure the health security of the State into the future.”

Mr Val Moran, IMO Director of Industrial Relations (General Practice, Public and Community Health), said there was a willingness within the Department of Health to work towards consultant status for public health doctors.

In December 2018, the Department published the Crowe Horwath report and an implementation oversight group commenced in March 2019, with an 18-month time frame for completion.

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