HEALTH MINISTER JAMES Reilly has said hospital consultants will face a major pay cut in their starting salaries under an agreement worked out in the early hours of this morning.
The starting salary rate for consultants will now be around €120,000 – a cut of 30 per cent – under the deal which changes working practices and hours for consultants.
Consultants will also now work any five days out of seven and can be rostered for night duty. Previously, they only worked weekdays, which had led to problems with patients not being seen at weekends.
The new deal was hammered out after 23 consecutive hours of talks between consultants, the HSE, the Department of Health and the Irish Medical Organisation. The proposals were accepted by all sides.
James Reilly said that the new changes to how consultants work could save around €200 million per year. He said:
The impact of what has been agreed has a vital financial benefit and of greater importance it paves the way for the more effective treatment of patients as we continue to reform our health services for the better in the interests of patients.
Speaking on RTE Radio One’s News at One today, the Minister said that he understands that the changes will be brought in on 1 October.
A number of issues, including Historic Rest Days, were not agreed at the LRC and will be referred to the Labour Court for adjudication.
There had been clear tensions between the groups during the talks at the Labour Relations Commission, which had lasted three days.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association only agreed to enter talks after Health Minister James Reilly publicly expressed his frustration that the organisation was not engaging in discussion.
All sides had set a deadline of Sunday night to reach an agreement. If a deal had not been struck by then the case would have been referred to the Labour Court to be solved.