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Hospital Staff

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 2 November 2011

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Questions (507)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

517 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health the process for the approval of consultant posts by the Health Service Executive; the number of consultant posts, if any, in the HSE that are unapproved and have not received subsequent funding; in the event of any consultant post not funded nationally but from individual hospital revenue, the number of these posts that exist; the number of non-consultant medical staff and nursing staff supporting these unapproved consultant posts and the source of the funding for these posts; and the person responsible for same. [32155/11]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

Section 57 of the Health Act, 2004 transferred a number of statutory functions previously performed by Comhairle na nOspidéal to the HSE with effect from 1st January 2005. These included regulating the number and type of appointments of consultant medical staff. This regulatory function covers all consultant appointments in the public health service including the HSE, voluntary hospitals and other agencies whether additional, replacement, temporary or locum and irrespective of the extent of the commitment involved or the source of funding of the appointment.

In addition, a Consultants Applications Advisory Committee (CAAC) was established under the Consultants Contract 2008. Membership of the CAAC includes senior HSE officials, medical consultants, representatives from patient advocacy groups, a voluntary hospital CEO and representatives of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association and the Irish Medical Organisation. The purpose of the CAAC is to provide independent and objective advice to the HSE on applications and qualifications for consultant posts.

The process for the approval of a consultant (additional or replacement) post involves the HSE's Consultant Appointment Unit undertaking assessment and processing of applications for consideration by the Consultant Applications Advisory Committee (CAAC). The advice of the CAAC is submitted to the National Director of Human Resources, to whom responsibility for the regulation of consultant posts has been delegated by the CEO of the HSE. The Regional Director of Operations in submitting an application is confirming that funding is available for a post and this enables it to be considered for approval. In the absence of confirmation of funding an application will not be considered for approval. When a decision is made to approve a post, a Letter of Approval is issued to the Office of the Regional Director of Operations. The Letter of Approval includes details relating to the post, such as the title, sub-specialty (if any), location of sessions, and the requisite professional qualifications.

Currently there are 2,503 approved consultant posts in the public health system. The current consultant WTE (whole time equivalent) is 2,468. The HSE's National Service Plan adopted by the Board, approves the funding and numbers of staff required to deliver services. HSE hospitals receive their revenue from within the overall funding allocation and pay costs for consultant staff are part of this revenue.

The Public Service moratorium allows for the recruitment of one hospital consultant for every two NCHD posts that are suppressed. Funding applications for new consultant posts must also be accompanied by information on the specific NCHD posts to be suppressed.

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