Irish Medical Organisation

Consultant Contract – a missed opportunity

Concerns centre on rostering, location of work and requirement to provide locum cover on top of their clinical responsibilities.


Saturday 15th April 2023.   The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has criticised the new consultant contract being introduced by Government.

Professor Matthew Sadlier, Chairman of the Consultant Committee of the IMO said that the Government has missed an opportunity to create an attractive common contract that would appeal to all consultants (existing and new).

Speaking at the IMO AGM in Killarney, Professor Sadlier said that feedback from IMO Consultants around the country had identified concerns on issues such as rostering, work locations and the requirement for consultants to provide locum support on top of their own clinical responsibilities.

Professor Sadlier said; “Many consultants do currently work in different locations and do work weekends and evenings and the issue with this contract is to ensure that there are reasonable agreements on how these matters will be dealt with in the future.”

Professor Sadlier said that the lukewarm response to the new contract did not bode well for the urgent need to recruit consultants; “with over 900 posts that we need to fill, the HSE has chosen to go to the market with this contract. We are concerned that it may not  bode well for their plans to increase urgently needed recruitment.”

Professor Sadlier said that the IMO would monitor the response to the new contract closely over the coming months.  He said; “we can’t afford to lose another decade.  If this contract runs into difficulties, we will be looking for urgent action to address the shortcomings so that patients are not forced to lose more years while the HSE avoids fixing the mess it has made.”

The Consultant Committee of the IMO also heard from Dr. Peadar Gilligan, Head of the Emergency Department at Beaumont Hospital and a former President of the IMO who spoke on the crowding issue at Emergency Departments (ED). 

Dr. Gilligan said that the lack of available hospital beds was a direct factor in overcrowding in Emergency Departments (ED).  He said that a requirement of an admission to hospital was the major predictor of a protracted stay in an ED and the length of time which each patient spends in the ED is the major contributor to crowding.

Dr. Gilligan said that being able to move admitted patients to a ward bed in a timely manner would significantly decrease the crowding of Eds in Ireland.  In terms of reducing the patient length of stay in ED, Dr. Gilligan said that timely assessment and admission by the on call teams would reduce ED length of stay and having more timely availability of lab tests and radiology would help to reduce crowding and length of stay in ED.

Dr. Gilligan warned that the problem would get worse.  He cited ESRI figures which project a need for between 4,000 and 6,300 additional beds in public and private hospital between 2015 and 2030; with up to 5,600 of these project to be required in public hospitals.

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