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Consultants to re-enter talks
[Posted: Thu 09/08/2012 www.irishhealth.com]
The largest consultant representative body, the IHCA, has said it will re-enter discussions on flexible work practices and other issues with the HSE.
The IHCA says it has has written to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) to confirm its willingness to engage in non-binding discussions with the HSE under the Croke Park agreement.
Health Minister James Reilly wants work practice changes from consultants as an alternative to basic pay cuts, which were proposed last year in the Programme for Government.
Management wants agreement on a more flexible working week and better availability of consultants in some specialties.
It also wants to introduce a new entry level consultant grade at a lower rate of pay and a cut in historic leave', or time in lieu for rest days, accumulated by consultants.
Some consultants who have accumulated this leave opt to take this leave by retiring early and in some cases act as their own locum, thereby receiving two salaries.
Talks on work practice changes broke down last month and the HSE referred the matter to the LRC.
According to the IHCA, the HSE has acknowledged that consultants already work well beyond their contracted hours.
IHCA President, Mr Denis Evoy said if the HSE wishes to extend hospital services further this can only be achieved safely if there is an agreed minimum number of consultants in each specialty to provide a continuous consultant presence on site consistent with international best practice.
Mr Evoy said this was acknowledged by the Hanly Report in 2003, which recommended that we should have 3,600 consultants by 2013 to achieve a fully operational consultant-provided service.
"However, we still only have about two-thirds of that number today. Consultants have responded to this shortage by demonstrating extensive flexibility, responding to the urgent and unpredictable needs of patients.”
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