Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (513)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

513. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which efforts continue to be made to retain doctors and nurses here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28251/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The public health service in Ireland operates in a global market for medical specialists which is experiencing a world-wide shortage. Notwithstanding this fact, progress continues to be made in attracting and retaining consultants and in addressing improvements in the training, working environment and career pathways for Non Consultant Hospital Doctors in Ireland to encourage the supply of future consultant candidates.

The issue of new entrant pay is being addressed in general terms under the terms of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020. The issue has also been examined by the Public Sector Pay Commission in relation to consultants. 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.

It should also be noted that while pay has an impact in recruitment and retention of consultants, a number of other factors are also important, including, inter alia, opportunities for career development, training opportunities and location. The Commission stated it was strongly supportive of the full implementation of the recommendations of the Strategic Review of Medical Training and Career Structures, the 'MacCraith' recommendations, on the basis they have the potential to resolve many of the issues raised with the Commission relating to recruitment and retention. My Department continues to monitor progress on implementation of these recommendations.

Concerning Nurses, the recent nursing agreement and the new Enhanced Practice Nurse/Midwife contract will see the financial position of nurses and midwives improve and should help to both recruit and retain nurses in the public health service. In relation to pay, the new Enhanced Practice Nurse and Midwife contract will deliver salary improvements for those that migrate to this new role range from between 2% - 11%. The Enhanced Nurse / Midwife Practice salary scale ranges between €35,806 to €47,201. The agreement will see improvements to a range of allowances, their extension to additional nurses and midwives, and a new allowance for those in medical surgical wards up to the maximum full year cost of €10m. It also includes a commitment to increase the number of Advanced Nurse Practitioners to a minimum of 2% of the nursing workforce. The HSE are currently working on a plan to deliver the implementation of the agreement.