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Trust needs to be rebuilt, warns IHCA President

The need for greater trust between consultants and health management was a central theme of IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine’s address to the Association’s annual conference. “Our trust experience with health service management over the past decade has been rocky,” warned Prof Irvine.

“Solemn promises and even legal agreements have been resiled from, as a matter of cultural normality in the system. Ironically, trust was at its strongest over the past 12-18 months, really when we had to hang together or
hang separately.” Speaking directly to the political leadership, Prof Irvine said: “Well right now, Taoiseach
[Micheál] Martin, Tánaiste [Leo] Varadkar, and Minister [Stephen] Donnelly are in danger of
losing the dressing room. The window to regain trust is closing.”

“As newsfeeds continue to cascade with negative healthcare sentiment, current talks involving new consultant contracts can either hasten or halt the slide, and depend on the mindset brought to the table.” He warned that the crisis over waiting lists was worsening.

“Meanwhile, as my colleague [Dr] Gabrielle Colleran outlined publicly in recent days, children are getting letters for public hospital appointments in 2035,” he told delegates. “For the families of the over 100,000 children waiting to see a hospital consultant, they would be forgiven for concluding that a letter stating we’ll see your child in 14 years must be a typo.

Alarmingly, no.” In our 9 October edition, the Medical Independent reported that the annual conference
heard there was “significant unrest” among trainees at recent developments in relation to Sláintecare and the draft consultant contract.

Dr Stefanie Croghan, Specialist Registrar in Urology, RCSI, presented new research on the perceptions of higher specialist trainees and Fellows regarding the proposed consultant contract. Over 93 per cent of trainees surveyed will
consider working abroad rather than signing the draft contract.

Respondents expressed concerns surrounding the ability to advocate for patients, provide patient care, working conditions, and perceived potential for deskilling.

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