That is an appalling situation, for which I blame not the Minister of State, Deputy Daly, but the absentee Minister for Health. Less than one week from St. Patrick's Day, the Minister is active on Twitter but he is not in the Dáil to answer questions. He was not in the Chamber last night for a Private Members' motion on the national children's hospital, nor was he before the Select Committee on Health to take Committee Stage of legislation on the HSE board. The Minister seems to be missing in action, except when it comes to Twitter.
Essentially, the Minister of State has just said there has been no engagement. Ireland is running out of doctors. We have the lowest level of hospital consultants in the OECD. At the same time, we have the highest waiting lists for patients - men, women and children - to see these doctors. These issues are linked. Any doctor thinking of returning from Australia, America or elsewhere will end up earning between €60,000 and €90,000 less than colleagues who have the same experience and may have graduated from the same medical schools. As a result, doctors are not coming back and the Government does not seem to be doing anything about it.
Does the Minister of State accept that we now face an urgent crisis in respect of the low number of doctors and consultants in the country? Does he accept that one of the key drivers of that is the massive discrepancy in new-entrant pay? If he accepts those things, why has there been no engagement whatsoever with representative groups to do something about it?