The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) welcomed news that there have been 125 new appointments under the terms of the new consultant contract since it was introduced in March of this year, but highlighted that the figure is ‘a fraction’ of the numbers the health service needs.
“We welcome every new consultant that joins the health services but we have to be realistic that the number of new consultants to join under the new consultant contract (125) is a fraction of the numbers we need and we still have over 900 vacant posts in the system,” Prof Matthew Sadlier, Chairman of the Consultant Committee of the IMO, said.
“We are short a further 2,000 consultants based on population at the moment so the scale of the challenge is clear. We remain very concerned at the growing waiting lists and the intolerable conditions for patients and staff within our services where resources are stretched and there are insufficient staff across all grades.”
Recent HSE figures also showed that an additional 293 previously employed consultants have moved to the new contract.
“It’s a very personal and individual decision for consultants whether to move to the POCC23 or not,” Prof Sadlier added. “When we have more numbers confirmed it will be helpful to understand which specialties and which locations are seeing higher or lower numbers moving over and where we have significant challenges to recruitment of new consultants.
“Consultants continue to express concerns – not about salary levels under the new contract – but on other key issues including uncertainty around working hours, location of work, their ability to do their jobs given the lack of resources, and pressures within the working environment. Neither the HSE nor the Government should play a ‘wait and see’ game when it is already crystal clear there are significant challenges in addressing the underlying issues when it comes to both retaining existing consultants in the system and recruiting new consultants.”
A spokesperson for the Irish Hospital Consultants Association said that ‘contract decisions are a matter for individual consultants’.