Ballot of Consultants and NCHDs rejects new contract proposed by Government.
“Missed opportunity by Government to address the recruitment crisis among the consultant workforce which will not be good for patients”.
Tuesday 7th March 2023. Consultant and NCHD members of the Irish Medical Organisation have voted to reject the new Consultant Contract proposed by the HSE and the Department of Health. The results of the ballot, held over recent weeks are:
- 57% of current contract holders have indicated they will NOT switch to the new contract.
- 64% of NCHDs (future consultants) say they will NOT take up this contract.
- 59% of consultants currently working overseas say they will NOT return to Ireland to take up this contract.
Speaking on the ballot result, Professor Matthew Sadlier, Chairman of the IMO Consultant Committee said: “The Government took the unilateral decision to conclude negotiations on a new contract and to present a final document on a take-it or leave-it basis without the agreement of the IMO. While we accept there was progress on some issues, we were very clear at the negotiations that a lack of safeguards around rostering, location and sufficient number of medical and other staff would make the terms unworkable in practice and create huge uncertainty and inequity. The Irish health services desperately needs more consultants and while we hope this contract will achieve that, there are valid concerns amongst doctors. Our concern is that was a missed opportunity by Government to agree a contract that would both encourage existing consultants to transition to and which would be attractive to much needed new consultants. We are now almost certainly looking at a period of great uncertainty and potentially an ongoing recruitment crisis.”
“What is clear is that the new contract will not address the critical shortage of consultants that we face in the Irish health services (with over 900 vacant consultant posts) and that is shocking news for every present and future patient of the health services in Ireland because waiting lists will get longer, hospital overcrowding will get worse and patient safety and health will continue to be compromised. The challenge of creating a sustainable workforce at consultant level remains as great as ever.”
Key reasons cited for the rejection of the proposed contract today include:
- No limitation on the number of evenings and Saturdays a consultant will be required to work in addition to already onerous on-call commitments.
- Significant concerns around the ability of the HSE to change work location of consultants without agreement which will compromise patient care and clinical schedules.
- Lack of trust in Government and HSE that there will be sufficient medical and other staff on weekend and evening shifts to ensure safety.
The IMO said that it was also clear that the historic failure of the HSE and Government to honour agreements was a complicating factor in terms of this contract. The organisation said it will support individual members on whatever decision they take in respect of the new contract. It called on the Government to reengage on these key points around hours of work, rostering arrangements and location and work with the representative bodies to secure a contract that works for all.