Patients at significant risks as Irish Hospitals are unable to recruit consultants
· The number of doctors working in hospitals as Consultants but who are not on the specialist register is unacceptable and an indictment on the HSE and Government
· The underlying cause of this problem is Government’s discriminatory pay policy and things are only going to get worse for patients and the health services
Sunday 17th June 2019. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has today called for the Minister for Health to respond to revelations that the HSE itself now accepts that clear patient safety risks are arising from the consultant recruitment crisis. The view of the HSE were revealed today by Susan Mitchell in the Sunday Business Post. The IMO believes that the Government introduced pay discrimination between consultants is a key factor in the recruitment crisis along with generally poorer working conditions compared to those being offered by health systems abroad.
Speaking today Dr Clive Kilgallen, Chair of the IMO Consultant Committee said “The simple truth of the matter is that we have too few consultants, the number of vacant consultant posts is now in excess of 500 and we are unable to recruit anyone to these posts. The direct consequence of this crisis in consultant recruitment is the inability of our health services to provide timely care to patients, ever growing waiting lists which in many instances will lead to adverse outcomes for patients. The solution to this cannot and should not be that the HSE recruit doctors who are not on the specialist register to undertake these roles, this is a breach of trust and a serious governance issue. The problem was highlighted by Justice Peter Kelly some time ago yet the situation in relation to our inability to recruit consultants remains.”
“The report by the HSE identifies the causes of the inability to recruit consultants but it is beyond belief that those causes are a revelation to anyone in the HSE or in Government. The IMO has warned Government of the inevitable consequences of their discriminatory pay policy whereby they pay consultant appointed since 2012 anywhere between 30% and 40% less than their colleagues working alongside them. There was absolutely no justification for the cut which was 30% more than any other cuts imposed on the public service during the years of austerity, significant savings were not made and indeed the costs to our service are now incalculable in terms of the delay in the provision of care”.
At the IMO AGM in April 2019 the Minister for Health committed to working with the IMO in relation to the recommendation of the Government’s own Pay Commission which recognised the problem and proposed that the parties to the Agreement consider measures to address the difficulty but we await the commencement of those discussions. Dr Kilgallen added “Any attempt to tackle waiting lists without recruiting the necessary consultants is doomed to failure and any attempt to recruit the necessary consultants without tackling the Government imposed discrimination in the pay system is doomed to failure also. We expect a lot from our doctors, and we must treat them fairly so they can do what they are trained to do – deliver care to patients”