Press Release

Statement on Medical Consultants’ Contract Negotiations

The Government today (6 February 2007) endorsed the proposals brought forward by the Minister for Health, Mary Harney T.D., on the timetable for the conclusion of negotiations on a new contract for medical consultants, and the implementation of Government policy with regard to the hiring of new consultants and improved equity of access for patients at public hospitals.

The Government approved the timeframe as follows.

The chairman of the talks, Mark Connaughton SC, will be asked to provide an interim progress report on the talks to be available for consideration by the Government on Feb. 27th, and a final, conclusive report to be available for the Government’s meeting on March 27th.

The Government re-affirmed that the new contract should support equality of access to public hospitals for all patients, flexibility in working arrangements, consultant-delivered services, team-working by consultants, clinical directorships, and a clear commitment to the public hospital system.

The Minister said, ‘Patients have to be admitted faster, to be seen by consultants faster, and to be discharged from hospital faster.

‘The Government is determined to have its policies implemented in respect of the hiring of new consultants on new terms, and the better organisation of services for patients in public hospitals.

‘The development of consultant-provided care will require substantial increases in the number of consultant posts over the coming years. In excess of 1,500 additional consultants will be required in a fully planned and properly budgeted way, integrated with service development, with a proportionate decrease in the number of non-consultant hospital doctors. ‘