Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (409, 410)

Gerry Adams

Question:

409. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health his plans to address the crisis in consultant recruitment further to information in recent media reports. [26355/19]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

410. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health if he has been provided with the HSE report into the employment of medical consultants cited in recent media reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26356/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 409 and 410 together.

I have received the Report referred to by the Deputy. It was submitted by the HSE to my Department on 13 May 2019 and is currently receiving consideration. The Report was prepared in response to requests I and my Department made to the HSE asking that it address the issues raised in the Judgement of Justice Kelly mentioned in the media reports and broader issues relating to medical recruitment.

While the number of consultants has increased by 109 in the 12 months to the end of April 2019 and by 509 in the past five years, the Government is aware that there are significant difficulties in filling certain consultant posts, particularly in smaller hospitals, though not exclusively, and in a number of specialties, as identified by the Public Sector Pay Commission. The Commission in its Report published on 4 September 2018 identified difficulties in attracting consultant applications for many posts at present and acknowledged that the pay rates for new entrants had been highlighted as a factor in this.

Given its analysis, the Commission proposed that the Parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement jointly consider what further measures could be taken, over time, to address the pay differential. The proposal of the Commission does need to be addressed. The next step is to engage with the representative organisations of consultants. However, brokering an affordable solution will be a significant challenge, in particular within the context of budgetary pressures and broader public sector policy.