CAPPING hospital consultants' salaries at €150,000 a year would save the Exchequer €51.7m, new figures reveal.
The estimate, provided in a parliamentary reply by HSE national director Liam Woods, comes in the wake of recent criticism of the scale of specialists' salaries here by the European Commission.
The commission report on progress in the bailout programme said the salaries for consultants employed in public hospitals should be cut. It pointed out they were among the highest paid in Europe.
The Government cannot cut existing salaries – as they are protected under the Croke Park agreement. However, it reduced the entry scale for new recruits last October by 30pc.
A hospital consultant who is on contract allowing them to only treat public patients is currently paid €166,000 while doctors who can also top up their income through private practice receives a salary of €156,258.
The total bill for hospital consultants' basic salaries in 2011 came to €434m and they received another €39m in allowances.
Meanwhile, the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin confirmed to the Irish Independent yesterday that it was implementing a voluntary redundancy programme.
A spokeswoman said the hospital was "committed to delivering the highest quality health- care at an affordable cost to its patients. In line with this, the hospital introduced a voluntary redundancy programme involving approximately 10 roles across a number of different areas."