INDUSTRIAL NEGOTIATIONS at the Labour Relations Commission between the government, the health service, doctors and consultants have ended – after 23 consecutive hours of talks, which continued eight hours after a 12am deadline.
The talks between the HSE, Department of Health, doctors’ union the Irish Medical Organisation representing and the Irish Hospital Consultants Association were due to finish at midnight, but continued overnight with agreement in sight on some key areas.
The Irish Times’ Martin Wall, speaking on Newstalk, said the talks will mean the creation of a new pay grade for new consultants, incorporating a salary of up to 30 per cent less than those afforded to current entrants, who are currently paid an average of €185,000 per year.
It was reported on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, however, that this 30 per cent reduction was not material to the overnight discussions.
The parties are also thought to have agreed to extra flexibility from consultants on rostering arrangements.
No deal has been reached on reforming other matters, including the historic ‘rest days’ system, meaning those matters may now be be referred to the Labour Court for a binding ruling under the terms of the Croke Park deal.
The ‘rest days’ issue is among the most contentious in the health system. Under the current system, consultants who are unable to take up their entitlements for rest days can save them up over time – often meaning they can take several months’ holidays directly before they retire.
The Department of Health was keen to reach a deal with the consultants’ association, as pay for consultants makes up some €475 million of its annual budget.