Statement by Mary Harney TD, Minister for Health and Children, at the conclusion of talks with the Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association (IHCA) on a new Consultants’ Contract
Welcoming the successful conclusion of negotiations with the IHCA, the Minister said,
‘The 2008 Consultants Contract marks a new era for our health services. It is the key to unlocking great improvements for patients that will be far-reaching and long-lasting. ‘It represents a fundamental change from the 1981 contract, which was amended in 1992 and 1997. ‘Patients will be the winners in this new contract:
•they will be seen faster with more consultants appointed; •best decisions and best outcomes for patients will be ensured by consultants working in teams under new clinical management; •consultant services to patients will be expanded with an extended working day of 8am to 8pm and structured weekend work, and local agreements to facilitate more flexibility in hospitals; •consultants will provide outpatient and diagnostic services on a ‘one for all’ basis, so that all patients are seen at the key entry point to public hospitals on the basis of medical need alone; •there will be a fair balance between public and private work, an 80:20 ratio, that will be managed and implemented properly for the first time; •we will have the basis to attract and hire top class consultants internationally.
‘Consultants are the clinical leaders in health, so I expect this agreement can lead to change and reformed work practices throughout the health sector.
‘It will take time for full implementation, so I look forward to the HSE and consultants working together in agreement to implement the new arrangements, including the recruitment of a substantial number of new consultants in areas such as cancer care, neurology services, rheumatology, respiratory care and mental health, to name but a few. ‘I am confident that the new contract will attract top candidates in Ireland and internationally.
‘On behalf of the Government, I want to express our deep gratitude and pay a special tribute to the independent Chairman, Mr Mark Connaughton, S.C., for guiding these talks to success. His commitment and service have been outstanding. I also commend the negotiating teams for their long, hard and constructive work in the final phase, particularly.’
‘This is a time of great opportunity for our health services and I look forward to all of us working together to delivering the top class health services we all want for our country.’