Irish Medical Organisation

IMO warns consultant contract cannot benefit health service in isolation

•              IMO responds to HSE correspondence to hospitals and CHOs on consultant contract


•              ‘The consultants in our system are working at maximum capacity. There is no room for manoeuvre unless we get major investment for more doctors and more beds along with major structural reform’


Friday April 26, 2024. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that the new public-only consultants’ contract will not, in and of itself, solve the chronic problems the health service is facing, and the Government can only expect to see meaningful improvements if it also addresses myriad, long-standing issues that have blighted the service for years.


The IMO was responding to a recent letter sent by the HSE to the chief executives of hospitals and community healthcare organisations, outlining its concern over whether these institutions are deriving the “necessary benefits” from the new consultant contracts. The letter stated that “in particular, weekend and extended day working arrangements in the above settings needs to be demonstrated”.


Speaking today, Professor Matthew Sadlier, Chair of the Consultants’ Committee of the IMO, said: “It is not realistic to infer that the health service will see tangible benefits if consultants are consistently rostered outside ‘normal’ working hours.”


He said that, currently, if consultants are obliged to work odd hours, then clinics at other times will have to be cancelled as there is a significant lack of doctors to provide cover. “There are hundreds of consultant posts that remain vacant or filled on a temporary basis, and the consultants in our system are working at maximum capacity. There is no room for manoeuvre unless major investment for more doctors and more beds, along with significant structural reform and realignment, are provided.”


Prof Sadlier said that, along with the requisite number of doctors, this rostering arrangement could only properly work if all other support staff and resources are in place and services are accessible at all times when a patient requires admission – currently we are a long way from getting to this point.


He said that he welcomed ongoing recruitment for posts but for that to make a difference in terms of the patient journey, the consultant must be enabled with clinic times, theatre times and access to all other services.


He said that consultants are not currently facilitated to provide optimal care to all patients given our chronic shortage of beds, inadequate access to diagnostics and an unmanageable waiting list backlog.


He said the chronic deficit in hospital bed occupancy levels in particular was highly dangerous and was leading to serious overcrowding across the system.


He added that the Government must accept responsibility for effectively underfunding capacity for two decades.

IMO Membership

Start reaping the benefits of membership.

If you were previously a member of the IMO you can rejoin here.

Join nowRejoin here ›


Have a question?
Please get in touch with us and we will be happy to answer.