Irish Medical Organisation

Following two decade long dispute, IMO public health specialists have voted to accept “landmark” agreement reached with the Department of Health and the HSE

Agreement will see HSE create 84 Consultant posts in Public Health for the first time ever

Friday 7th May 2021.  Public Health Specialists in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have voted to approve the terms of an agreement reached with the Department of Health to resolve the long running dispute with the Government.  In April, the IMO announced that it had reached agreement with the Department of Health and the HSE on the issue and was putting the matter to a ballot of Public Health Specialists with a recommendation that it be accepted.  That ballot has now completed and 87% of returned ballots were in favour of accepting the agreement.  

With this mandate from members the IMO will now ratify the agreement with the State side.  The IMO  will actively monitor the implementation of this agreement and will be seeking an early meeting with the HSE with regard to the planned timeline for posts to be advertised in Phase 1 of the agreement.


Key Terms of Agreement: 

  • Under the agreement, the Department of Health and HSE has agreed to create 84 Consultant grade posts in Public Health.  
  • 34 of these will be filled over the coming 12 months.  
  • A further 30 will be filled between June 2022 and June 2023.
  • The final 20 posts will be filled between June 2023 and December 31st of that year.   
  • Appointments will be made on the Common Consultant Contract. (Any new contract agreed for consultants will see existing appointments move to this contract and future posts be offered it).
  • A new model for Public Health Medicine which reforms the operating and governance structure within Public Health, introducing a more fit-for-purpose National and Regional management structure across each of the pillars of Public Health


Background to Dispute

This dispute had been ongoing for 20 years.  It centred on the refusal of successive Governments to extend the grade of  Consultant to suitably qualified Public Health Specialists as recommended by successive independent reports on the issue and as is normal in other countries.  Ireland is unique in not having consultant status for doctors who have undergone Higher Specialist Training in public health medicine.

Late last year, Public Health doctors voted to take strike action to pursue the matter.  However, in the interests of patients and the critical work of Public Health Medicine in fighting the pandemic the strike action was deferred to allow for talks with the Department of Health and the HSE.

Comment by Dr. Anne Dee, Chairperson of Public Health Committee of the IMO

“This agreement is the culmination of a 20-year campaign to put Irish Public Health Medicine on a par with the rest of the medical profession.  We welcome the decision of our members to accept the agreement.  We believe that it is a landmark agreement for the future of public health in Ireland and will bring the public health discipline here into line with other jurisdictions such as New Zealand, Australia, UK and Canada in having the role of Consultant in Public Health Medicine.”

Dr. Dee continued; “All existing Specialists in Public Health Medicine will have the opportunity to apply for new posts and this agreement will support our efforts to recruit the next generation of public health doctors who will be relieved to see that Ireland will now respect their skillset in the same manner as other specialties and as other countries do.”

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