It is recognised that there are particular difficulties filling consultant posts in certain locations and in specialties where there are international shortages, including paediatrics. However, while our numbers are low by international standards, they continue to increase each year. At the end of October 2019 there were 3,231 whole time equivalent consultants working in the public health services. The number has increased by 142 in the 12 months to the end of October and by over 550 in the past 5 years. Most consultant posts not filled on a permanent basis are filled by locums or other arrangements to support the delivery of essential services.
My Department recently published the de Buitléir report. This Group was established to examine how to give effect to the Sláintecare recommendation on the removal of private practice from the public hospital system. The Group recommends offering only Sláintecare Type A (public only) contracts going forward, with pay parity limited to new Consultants who would take up this contract. It is through the implementation of this major Sláintecare reform that issues in relation to Consultant recruitment, retention, pay and other conditions will be addressed.