I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy on the first part of the question.
The Public Service Pay Commission identified difficulties in recruiting consultants and stated that there are a number of factors involved including the differential in pay between established consultants and those appointed post -October 2012. It proposed that the parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement jointly consider what measures could be taken over time to address this. 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.
While there are significant recruitment and retention challenges, particularly in certain specialties and less attractive locations at present, the number of consultants employed (whole time equivalents) has continued to increase on an annual basis, typically by over 100 each year and the majority of vacant posts are filled on a locum or agency basis to support service delivery.