Press Release

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.’