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Just 31 new consultants on new entry grade

06 Mar 2014

By Gary Culliton.

Just 31 new consultants have been appointed at the Level One entry grade, new figures reveal.

A total of 93 new consultants have been appointed and these are already in place. One-third of those 93 consultants were employed at the new rate, a report by HSE National HR Director Barry O’Brien shows.

In addition, a further 71 consultant posts have been approved for filling.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said he had held talks on the matter with HSE Director General Tony O’Brien and Barry O’Brien. “When we introduced the reduction, it was never my intention that somebody who has spent 10 years working as a cardiologist in Toronto would be expected to return here and commence work at the starting point on the salary scale,” said Dr Reilly. “That, clearly, does not make sense. It has to be modified and whatever needs to be done will be done to address that issue.”

“We want a consultant-delivered service and that is what we are aiming for,” said Dr Reilly. “In the past, we had a consultant-led service. I have been examining the position with regard to consultant numbers and associated difficulties.”

In the main, “there is not the great crisis chaos that the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) would like to paint,” suggested Dr Reilly. He said there were many other reasons consultants did not wish to return to Ireland; one of the main reasons in the past had been the lack of ability to do research. “We want to address that through the hospital Groups and through involvement in them of the universities,” said Dr Reilly.

“The changes have had an impact to some extent on the bringing back of consultants who were in established or senior posts elsewhere,” HSE Director General Tony O’Brien said in response to Joint Oireachtas Health Committee questioning.

“There has not been an overall generalised problem in regard to the recruitment of consultants. Competitions have been successfully concluded but it has always been the case that between a vacancy arising and a replacement being in post, there can be a significant delay.”

HSE National Director of Acute Services Ian Carter cited the case of Waterford Regional Hospital. There are a total of 20 consultant posts “currently being advanced”, of which seven are new consultant posts and of those, five are starting, Carter said. “It has proved difficult to recruit consultants to three posts,” he added.

In regard to one of the consultant vacancies, the HSE is examining the possibility of linking the Waterford post to CUH in Cork — “to see if it can be made a more attractive post”, added Carter.

6 March 2014

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