In September 2012, following intensive engagement between health service management and the consultant representative bodies at the Labour Relations Commission, a comprehensive set of measures was agreed. The agreement encompasses a range of flexibilities to enhance productivity and efficiency and to maximise the availability of consultants, as key clinical decision-makers. These measure include:
- Consultant availability for rostering for any five days out of seven as opposed to weekdays;
- Rostering of consultants on a 16/7 (8 a.m. to midnight) or 24/7 basis in services where this is required;
- Clinical Directors having a much strengthened management role in respect of consultants, with reporting relationship for all consultants to the Clinical Director;
- Consultant cooperation with a range of measures to support improved Community and Mental Health services;
- Consultant compliance with the contractual requirements regarding private practice;
- Expeditious processing and signing of claims by consultants for submission to private health insurers.
In addition more cost effective arrangements for funding of continuing medical education are currently being finalised.
The Labour Court issued its recommendations regarding a number of further issues on 6 November last covering historic rest days, ongoing rest day arrangements and the fee for the provision of a second opinion as required under the Mental Health Act, 2001. The recommendations relating to the latter two issues are binding. Health service management are now engaged in implementation of the measures covered by the LRC and Labour Court processes.
I look forward to all consultants embracing the changes agreed at the LRC and accepting the terms of the Labour Court recommendations, in the interests of providing the most appropriate and cost-effective services to patients.