Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (901)

Seán Haughey


901. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health his plans to restore pay equality for hospital consultants appointed post-2012; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that health authorities are unable to secure sufficient numbers of senior staff and that many posts are not filled on a permanent basis as a result of this issue; if a process will be put in place to deal with the problem in consultation with an organisation (details supplied) and other relevant bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35187/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Resolving this issue will require engagement with the IMO reflecting the recommendation of the Public Service Pay Commission that the parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement jointly consider what further measures could be taken over time to address this difficulty, beyond the incremental steps introduced generally for new entrants in 2018.

I published the Report of the Independent Review Group established to examine private activity in public hospitals on the 26 August 2019. The Recommendations of the Group have implications for the contracts under which consultants working in the health service would be employed. When the Report was launched, I committed to consulting with key stakeholders and with my colleagues in Government to examine the implications in more detail. Engagement with the consultants representative bodies will arise following on from the decisions of the Government on the Report's recommendations.

While there are significant recruitment and retention challenges, particularly in certain specialties and less attractive locations, the number of consultants employed (whole time equivalents) has continued to increase on an annual basis, typically by over 100 each year.

It is my view a process should be commenced with the various bodies in the near future. However, any solution has to be realistic and affordable.