Developments in talks on the consultants’ contract
Statement by the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D.
The Minister said, ‘the public interest requires that the hiring process needs to begin now. It can often take significant time to hire consultants. It cannot be in patients’ interests to delay the start of that process any longer.’
‘Appointments to the new posts will be made on the basis of a new contract and it is still possible for that contract to be an agreed one.
She said it was disappointing, therefore, to see consultants choosing to withdraw from talks. ‘To withdraw or step back from talks achieves nothing. It cannot be in patients’ interests and it will not deliver anything for consultants.’
She noted that, in any event, existing contract holders would not be affected by the recruitment process and that any changes in their existing contracts would require agreement.
The Minister reiterated that the timing of the recruitment was driven by the public interest.
‘The Government have undertaken to the public to hire new consultants on a new contract to improve patient care, at least as far back as the 2001 Health Strategy. Over two years ago, the Government removed a major block to the talks, by addressing the clinical indemnity and Medical Defence Union issue. This was a very significant gesture to consultants. I believe people are now entitled to see Government policy on new consultants begin to be implemented.’