Irish medics and teachers are among highest paid in the world
IRISH hospital doctors earn more than medics in most parts of the developed world, while nurses are the fourth-highest paid, according to a government-sponsored report.
And our primary school teachers are among the best paid in the OECD, it reveals.
Health specialists here earn an average of around $225,000 (€194,000), according to a new report on the costs of doing business in Ireland by the National Competitiveness Council.
The report looked at salaries in many members of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, but did not include doctors in North America.
"Irish health specialists receive the highest average salary of the group for which data is available," yesterday's report noted. It is much the same story for nurses, who earn more than their counterparts anywhere but Luxembourg, Norway and Liechtenstein, according to the report. The figures take account of the recent public sector pay cuts but do not reflect the impact of the public sector pension levies.
Specialist doctors here earn about four times more than their counterparts in Greece and Portugal and twice as much as specialists in Germany, Finland or Norway.
Salaries make up the bulk of the Health Service Executive's annual budget, so high pay for doctors and nurses means there is less to spend on medicines and equipment .
While prices are falling in many parts of the economy, figures from the Central Statistics Office regularly show increases in the cost of services sheltered from international competition such as medicine and the law.
The National Competitiveness Council report also shows that primary school teachers are also among the best paid in the OECD.
The starting salary for primary teachers in Ireland in 2010 is 15pc above the 2007 average for 24 countries in the OECD, while pay for teachers with 15 years' experience and for those on the top-scale salary is the second highest (after Luxembourg) when the impact of the public sector pension levies is excluded, the council found.
The report shows that wages in other parts of the Irish economy have fallen relative to the rest of the eurozone. While salary levels in the private sector are now in line with EU averages, "the report also highlights a number of public service occupations where wages are very high relative to international norms", said Ronnie O'Toole, an economist at National Irish Bank.
Hospital consultants dismissed proposals to introduce salaries of €205,000 as 'Mickey Mouse' during a bitter dispute Health Minister Mary Harney three years ago.
The proposal for a 39-hour week also included an additional €40,000 if the doctors met targets for treating patients. They eventually agreed to a fixed salary of €237,000 for those without private practice.