Acute hospital and mental health services in Ireland face an escalating and unprecedented recruitment and retention crisis over a pay dispute.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) claimed the “blatant discrimination” by the State and the health service employers against new hospital consultants has had an “adverse” impact on delivery of care.
A survey of 317 new consultant members revealed that 99% of respondents said that lower salary terms had an impact on patient care because of the large number of consultant posts that remain unfilled or filled on a temporary basis.
Over 70% of the consultants say they will seriously consider resigning from public hospital posts unless salary terms are “corrected”.
The vast majority of respondents – 95% – also say that lower salary terms do not reflect the importance of the work and level of responsibility that they hold in their posts.
IHCA president Dr Donal O’Hanlon said: “The survey has provided categorical evidence that our highly trained specialist consultants will not continue to work in our health services if the persistent and blatant discrimination against them continues.
“Recently appointed consultants are on salaries significantly below those of their pre-October 2012 colleagues who are currently being paid up to 57% more.”
Dr O’Hanlon said that 72% of new consultants ranked equal pay for equal work as the most important aspect of their working terms and conditions.
He added that the results of the survey should set “alarm bells” ringing at government level as consultant-led services are on a “cliff edge”.
“It is being fundamentally and critically undermined by the State’s persistent discrimination against internationally sought after specialist hospital consultants,” he continued.
According to Dr O’Hanlon, about half of the 450 approved consultant posts are vacant – while some are filled on an agency basis.
“The ‘new entrant’ salary is not competitive in the global market for consultants and it is discriminatory in the extreme towards new hospital consultants,” he added.
The Department of Health has been contacted for a response.