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IHCA urged to reconsider HRA

10 Oct 2014

The IHCA has again been urged to consider taking part in the State’s industrial relations processes, specifically the Haddington Road Agreement.

Pictured in Cork: Martin Varley, IHCA Secretary General; Jim Breslin, DOH; and Dr Gerard Crotty, President, IHCA

“There are problems recruiting consultants and this is causing an increased workload and difficult working conditions,” the Secretary General of the Department of Health Jim Breslin accepted at the IHCA Annual Conference in Cork. “We are committed to rebuilding trust following the difficult times we have experienced these past numbers of years.”

The Secretary General added that health management were taking measures to improve this by trying to attract and retain new entrant consultants to the health service. “The MacCraith recommendations and the new pay scales for new entrant consultants have been announced. We are now at the point where we want to implement the recommendations.

“The IHCA represents 85 per cent of consultants. However, you have chosen not to become a party to the Haddington Road Agreement, as is your entitlement,” Breslin said. “The question I put to you is, can you fully influence change if you are not fully involved in the State’s public service processes? If we work together we can address the issues and create solutions.

“We have new management personnel and a new Minister and very shortly new hospital Group structures. We would like a new and stronger relationship centred on our shared interest in improving patient care,” he added.

Boards for hospital Groups will be in place by the end of the year and progress is continuing on putting full Group management teams in place within all Groups, the Secretary General added.

The priority now was to get all of the hospital Groups up and running as single, cohesive operational entities, Breslin added.

Hospitals working together in a Group would now also be able to support each other, providing a stronger role for smaller hospitals. The Groups would be able to deliver less complex care and “ensure that those who require true emergency or complex planned care are managed safely in larger hospitals”.

The recent appointment of Chief Executives for hospital Groups “represents a significant step” in the development of the Groups, Breslin said.

When the building blocks of governance and management are fully in place, hospital Groups will be given greater leadership roles and more operational freedom, with budgets and Employee Control Frameworks devolved to Group CEOs, Breslin told consultants in Cork.

In response, CEOs will be expected to manage each of the key areas of hospital performance, including access, quality, workforce and budget management. A priority will be to work across all sites to secure optimum service configuration in pursuit of high quality, accessible services.

The MacCraith Group saw the establishment of the Hospital Groups as an opportunity to enhance and refine existing clinical and management structures, building on the Clinical Director model, Breslin told the IHCA meeting.

MacCraith also saw the need for a Head of Department role in the major service groups and the potential for a more focused management role for consultants of longer duration than at present, one that could be a permanent career choice rather than the current temporary assignments as Clinical Directors.

The recent LRC proposals provide for the appointment of Heads of Department and Group Managers. “I am particularly aware that the IHCA was not involved in the LRC process. However, the Minister and the Department would greatly welcome IHCA involvement in the development of the roles of Heads of Department and Group Managers and the implementation of the new structures,” said Breslin.

“The current model of Clinical Director in the 2008 Contract has helped achieve significant progress in relation to service delivery. However, I have no doubt it can be improved upon,” he added.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times