Consultants have agreed to meet with the Department of Health and the HSE next week, but have insisted that the "discriminatory pay policy of 2012" must be discussed first before any other issues.
Hospital consultants employed after October 2012 are paid up to €50,000 less than their colleagues who were appointed before that date. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) believes that this pay disparity is having a direct impact on the HSE's ability to recruit and retain consultants.
Official figures show that over 500 consultant posts are currently vacant, with many doctors choosing to emigrate to countries with better pay and conditions.
Furthermore, according to figures contained in the Medical Workforce Intelligence Report, which was published this week, the number of doctors withdrawing from the medical register rose to 1,453 in 2018 - an almost 38% increase on 2017's figure.
Among those, 70% were under the age of 44 and 69% said they planned to work as a doctor abroad.
The IMO has said that on foot of an invitation from the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, it will meet with the Department of Health, the HSE and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform next week.
However, it insisted that these talks will fail if the pay issue is not dealt with first. In fact, the organisation has stated that it will not engage in any other matters "until this issue, which has dragged on for seven years, is resolved".
"While there are many issues that need to be discussed, none is more important than the need to urgently end the discriminatory two-tier pay system under which new consultants are paid up to €50,000 less than their colleagues for no other reason than the date of their appointment.
"This discriminatory pay policy has led to over 500 vacancies in consultant positions, widespread emigration by young doctors and increased waiting times for patients. The urgent reversal of this inequitable and unfair policy is the first step to tackling other issues in the hospitals. Ignoring the issue any longer, as the Government seems to be planning, will not be accepted by the IMO," commented Dr Clive Kilgallen, chairperson of the IMO Consultant Committee.
He added that the IMO "cannot consider discussing other issues until this matter is resolved".
Discussions on this topic are now closed.