The Government has been accused of "betraying" patients and medical staff by failing to deal with a workforce crisis within the health service.
According to the Irish Medical Organisation, the maintenance of austerity-led cuts is having a direct impact on patient care, as well as working conditions for doctors.
The IMO made its comments at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Health on Wednesday. It said that there have been three major contributing factors to the current crisis within healthcare:
-An absence of planning and investment for the number of doctors required to meet the health needs of a changing demographic of patients
-A poorly resourced health service and a hostile, overly-pressurised work environment, which is contributing to high levels of emigration of doctors
-A failure to make the public health service an employer of choice for medical professionals.
The IMO again highlighted the fact that hospital consultants hired after October 2012 are paid 30% less than their colleagues hired before that date. It called for the abolition of this measure, which it insists has had a major impact on the recruitment and retention of doctors.
"The IMO consistently warned that austerity-era cuts would have a severely negative effect on the health service, and it gives us no pleasure to see the results of those Government decisions.
"Patients are suffering every day because of Government choices. If the Government is serious about reforming our health service, there are a number of steps that need to be taken immediately," IMO president, Dr Padraig McGarry, told the Oireachtas committee.
These steps, he said, include abolishing the pay disparity for consultants, increasing investment in general practice and modernising training to reflect changing practices and demographics.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.