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Consultants blame government for staffing 'crisis' as report finds pay higher than UK levels

A government report found that Irish consultants have higher gross salaries than the UK or New Zealand.

Image: Shutterstock/ldutko

HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS HAVE challenged the health minister Simon Harris to take action on a recruitment “crisis” after a government report said that Irish consultants have higher gross salaries than the UK or New Zealand. 

The spending review, published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, found that a consultant’s annual salary in Ireland had remained higher than their counterparts in the UK and New Zealand between 2012 and 2017. 

“Average consultant salary has been rising since 2016 and remains higher than specialist salaries for the comparator countries,” the review said. 

“In 2018, consultants in Ireland earned 28% more than their UK counterparts and 36% above their New Zealand based colleagues,” it added. 

Consultants in Ireland were found to have a gross annual salary that was consistently higher than the UK and New Zealand during the period under consideration, despite Consultants post-October 2012 entering the system on a lower salary scale.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association challenged the government to take action on the recruitment “crisis” in the HSE. 

“Ireland has a much lower number of approved consultant posts across our public hospitals than is the case in other OECD countries,” the association said in a statement. 

The HSE, the association said, is currently unable to fill one in five of current consultant posts.

In 2018, a report by the Public Service Pay Commission found that low salaries were contributing to the HSE’s difficulties in recruiting specialist consultants. 

The government’s decision  to cut the salaries of new consultants, the association said, has “directly led to the consultant recruitment and retention crisis in the Irish health service”. 

Since 2012, the average consultant’s salary has been over €142,000 – this compares to an average salary of €163,000 for consultants hired before 2012. 

The report found that there were 2,971 consultants employed by the HSE in 2017 – an 18% increase from 2012. However, it also noted that Ireland has a lower density of consultants per 1,000 people than both the UK and New Zealand. 

“While Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s publication today further highlights the consultant crisis, it is now time to move beyond acknowledgement of the problem to tackling it,” the association said. 

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