The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has criticised the Government's decision to facilitate pay increases of over €16,000 each to three newly appointed Ministers of State, when some hospital consultants continue to earn 30% less than their colleagues as a result of when they were hired.
Last week, the Dail passed legislation to allow for three so-called ‘super junior' ministers to receive a pay increase of €16,000 on top of their Minister of State salary of €124,000.
The increase applies to Fianna Fail TD and chief whip, Jack Chambers, Fine Gael TD and Minister of State with responsibility for international and road transport and logistics, Hildegarde Naughton, and Green Party Senator and Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Pippa Hackett.
The move to grant the pay increases was widely criticised by many, including the IMO, which has described it as "gross hypocrisy".
It pointed out that consultants hired after October 2012 are paid 30% less than their colleagues hired before that date. This means that doctors who are doing the same work are being paid up to €50,000 less per annum because they were hired after October 2012.
The IMO has long emphasised that this is a crucial factor in the shortage of consultants in Ireland. A 2019 survey found that 83% of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) said that pay disparity at consultant level will have an impact on their decision about whether to apply for a consultant post in Ireland or not.
The IMO said that the fact that the legislation relating to the junior ministers was passed within weeks of the formation of the new Government "has shocked many consultants in Irish hospitals who continue to earn more than 30% less than their colleagues purely based on the date of their employment".
"This is gross hypocrisy plain and simple. The new Government doesn't want people in the same super junior roles earning different salaries, yet they are quiet happy to oversee exactly the same injustice among hospital consultants," commented Prof Matthew Sadlier of the IMO Consultant Committee.
He said that this type of hypocrisy "poisons the morale of hospital consultants".
"It is directly linked to the recruitment and retention crisis which has left over 500 consultant posts vacant. It is telling that the Government priority is to pay some ministers more while healthcare workers get a round of applause," he said.
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